Network Virtualization

What is Network Virtualization?

Network virtualization abstracts elements of IT infrastructure that are traditionally delivered as hardware, including compute, network, and storage, and turns them into a software-based solution.

How is network virtualization different from traditional IT infrastructure?

Traditional IT infrastructures are based on physical hardware like servers to deliver needed processing power, storage space, and other resources; however, virtualization lets administrators create those resources independently of hardware (i.e., abstraction) through software. When applied to one or many networks, virtual networks can consolidate and combine the resources of several physical networks, set aside networks for specific workloads, and organize and connect virtual machines (VMs).

A virtual network is made through a software known as a virtual switch (vSwitch), which controls the communication and traffic between a physical infrastructure and its virtual counterpart. A virtual network adapter (or hypervisor) lets machines and VMs connect to a network, particularly as part of a local area network (LAN) or virtual local area network (VLAN), where resources and applications are shared by multiple users.

Related HPE Solutions, Products, or Services

Why adopt network virtualization?

Network virtualization is a key building block for cloud-based solutions that offer enterprises less management-heavy IT, with optimized resources, higher quality user experiences, greater flexibility and agility, and improved reliability—all at lower costs than traditional hardware-based networks. By turning to an alternative to legacy hardware, enterprises can accelerate and support innovation, meet the ever-changing needs of customers and technological requirements, and secure a competitive edge.

External vs. internal network virtualization

Two types of virtual networks exist: external and internal.

External network virtualization leverages physical systems located on the same LAN into separate VLANs. External networks can also divide individual LANs onto the same VLAN. The advantage of external networking is improved management efficiency, letting IT administrators configure all systems attached to the virtual network rather than servicing individual machines.

While external virtual networks operate within several servers, internal virtual networks work within a single server only, mimicking the physical network in order to improve performance. This virtualization method is achieved through isolated software containers, a standard package of code, and all necessary dependencies applications need to run properly and smoothly across environments.

What are the benefits of network virtualization?

Simplify data center management

With virtual networks, many tasks that would otherwise require additional hardware to be managed on-site can be offloaded to software. And once virtualized, these tasks can be automated, eliminating complexity and reducing the cost of managing legacy hardware.

Get more network flexibility

Virtual networks can be configured and structured in multiple ways (e.g., internal or external) according to business needs. Compared to physical servers, which can take days or weeks to be provisioned for new workloads and applications, network virtualization can be done quickly in response to spikes in bandwidth requirements.

Enable remote access and productivity

Employees no longer have to work on location to have access to shared applications and storage. By decentralizing office IT, businesses can extend their networks and resources to other branches and employees can access the server remotely using an Internet connection.

Improve network security

Virtualized servers can isolate sensitive data from the data center, keeping it away from potential cyber threats, and implement virtual firewalls that control endpoint access.

HPE network virtualization services and solutions

HPE partners with enterprises and other organizations around the world to accelerate their digital transformations via a portfolio of robust services and products. HPE GreenLake for Networking is a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) offering that helps companies unlock IT efficiencies through proactive, managed network operations throughout the lifecycle—all for a single monthly payment. By making their networks more agile and efficient, HPE GreenLake for Networking can help automate tasks that optimize IT staff efficiencies, letting them focus more on business innovation.

Due to pandemic conditions and changing employee work-life balance preferences, the rise in hybrid workplaces has led to the popularity of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), a desktop environment hosted on a central server that is run with VMs and made accessible to users over a virtualized network. VDIs give employees on-demand, secure remote access to shared applications, data storage, and other resources via an Internet connection, all while mitigating unauthorized logins. By helping companies create and scale digital workplaces, HPE helps maintain employee productivity outside of the office and limit business disruptions.

For example, HPE partners with Wipro on an offering that redefines desktop and application virtualization. Wipro VIRTUADESK™ on HPE Hyperconverged Infrastructure For VDI helps clients virtualize with rapid deployment on an easily scalable platform with enhanced security features.

HPE also offers HPE Aruba Networking Service Manager, a portal that uses HPE Aruba Networking Edge Services Platform (ESP), an AI-powered, cloud-native platform that predicts and resolves problems at the network edge before they happen, and HPE Aruba Networking Central, a cloud-native, single-pane-of-glass console that helps consolidate all network operations.