News briefs: HP updates FlexFabric line; Citrix refines partner program

In these briefs, HP updates its FlexFabric portfolio, Citrix revamps its partner programs and Brocade debuts its vision for on-demand data centers.

HP releases FlexFabric virtual switch software

Amid a host of updates to its FlexFabric product line, Hewlett-Packard (HP) unveiled a new software-based switch, the FlexFabric Virtual Switch 5900v, which the company claims will offer more powerful management of data center networking. The 5900v enables greater visibility and control in a VMware-based environment by using the Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator standard to move virtual switching into the physical HP 5900AF switch. As Mike Banic, vice president of global marketing for HP Networking, told SearchNetworking's Shamus McGillicuddy, the virtual switch's approach unifies the physical and virtual layers with an industry standard: "This provides clarity for what server administrators and network administrators do." Other updates to HP's data center switching portfolio include enhanced OpenFlow support for FlexFabric switches, a new virtual router and a module to integrate traditional and software-defined networking (SDN) management.

Updates for Citrix partner and SaaS Advisor programs

Citrix is working to give large service providers and telecom companies a smoother process of bringing cloud-based services to market with enhancements to its Citrix Solution Advisor program and a new Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS) Advisor Program. As SearchITChannel's Lynn Haber reported, the Solution Advisor program changes come in response to feedback Citrix received from about 8,500 partners worldwide. The adjustments up the standards for the higher tiers of partner certification, boost rewards for partners and offer free training subscriptions to support organizations' technical competency with Citrix products. The new SaaS Advisor Program will offer two models: a SaaS resale and rewards program for affiliates, and a program for service providers and SaaS aggregators.

Brocade announces on-demand data center initiative

Simplified networks, faster provisioning and adoption of SDN are the aim of Brocade's recently announced vision for on-demand data centers, as the company stated in a press release. Brocade's strategy includes both new and updated software and hardware, including an OpenStack plug-in that builds on the SDN-focused OpenDaylight project. Leveraging technology inherited in its 2012 acquisition of Vyatta, Brocade is releasing a software update for its Brocade Vyatta vRouter -- aimed at building flexible, multi-tier networks -- along with a virtual switch that provides for speedier application deployment. Enhanced NetIron network software, new modules for physical routers and updates to the Brocade Application Resource Broker were among other parts of Brocade's strategy for on-demand data centers.

Salesforce finally set for U.K. data center

At its Customer Tour event in London, Salesforce.com made the long-awaited announcement that it will establish a data center in the U.K. The data center will be Salesforce's first facility outside of the U.S. or Asia, providing dedicated services for customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Set to open in Slough, England in 2014, the data center will deliver on promises Salesforce has been making for years in offering the security assurances local data storage allows, according to MicroScope. That will mean more public-sector business for the SaaS giant, Salesforce EMEA chairman Steve Garnett told press and analysts, ComputerWorld UK reported.

SLAs leave many users in the dark

The verdict from user advocacy group Cloud Standards Customer Council is harsh: Most providers' service-level agreements (SLAs) are rigid and opaque, skewed notably in favor of providers. The council's recent examination of publicly available contracts from leading public cloud providers determined SLAs in general "fall short," as NetworkWorld reported. Key points of many agreements are described in terms that are scattered across documents and difficult for consumers to understand. Frequently, providers limit consumer options by passing on the brunt of liability, while the lack of commonality between various providers' SLAs makes it hard to compare choices from the start. Independent consultant and council member Steven Woodward, who helped write the council's whitepaper on how to approach public cloud SLAs, said businesses should make service agreements top priority in their benchmark evaluations of infrastructure options.

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