What is a VIM?

In the new world that is the Internet Of Things (IOT), the sky is not clear, but filled with clouds (metaphorically speaking).

My current focus has me doing research into OpenStack, Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN). I have blogged on NFV and SDN but OpenStack is very interesting. When OpenStack is used to host NFV devices in a public or private cloud, the devices in question can achieve in excess of five nines of reliability on COTS hardware. When NFV rides on a cloud implementation like OpenStack, the cloud is called a Virtualization Infrastructure Manager or VIM.

I expect to see a number of commercial and open source VIM’s in the coming months that will host any number of virtualized devices. Most of the buzz around NFV has been focused on virtual network elements like routers, but any virtualized device can benefit from a VIM.

In the past, vendors have had to implement high availability by using separate software packages like Oracle’s WebLogic, but these packages are very costly. For some people like service providers, the cost is part of doing business and worth the expense for the associated support. For the general masses however, a VIM does present a very interesting alternative.

The NFV approach to software centric network elements is very flexible, but the jury is still out on how much it will cost, how easy it will be to deploy and how difficult it will be to support. Being able to add a potential five nines of reliability to the equation, improves the appeal. Will it be enough to trigger a mass deployment? We’ll have to leave that to the sands of time.

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