VMware Bets All Its Chips On Software-defined Environments
After some time to reflect on my trip to VMworld, it’s become clear that VMware is undergoing a massive evolution with respect to what it does in the network space. From software-driven environments to cloud-centric strategies, VMware is positioning itself in a world that’s largely leaving the data center and other legacy systems behind.
In a way, VMware has hinged their entire company on software-driven environments with centerpiece of that strategy being the company’s NSX software platform – a network virtualization and security tool that includes all the capability of a hardware-centric network, but with additional capabilities in terms of scale, flexibility, agility and speed.
Though NSX was launched back in 2013, a lot of technologists reserved judgment on the product until it was field-tested. Since then, there have been a large number of real-world deployments from legitimate customers with substantial footprints running software-defined data centers with NSX as the underlying platform.
Although NSX is very powerful in concept, the challenge has always been how to best operationalize the platform. VMware had to ask itself how it could help customers take advantage of this platform and how it could make NSX easier to consume.
What has recently helped are the evermore mature tool sets that make taking advantage of NSX a lot easier and more accessible. A clear example is application rule monitoring (ARM), which is actually native with NSX.
ARM provides an easier way to help create security rule sets quickly for new or existing applications. The tool leverages real-time information to monitor an application’s communications workload both in and out so the proper security model can be built around that application. ARM can monitor up to 30 virtual machines in one session and have five sessions running at a time. Normally, users would have to look up that kind of information using brute force using techniques such as firewall logging and manually have to sort through that data to discover application traffic.
vRealize Network Insight is another tool that builds upon what ARM delivers but providing a broader view of the data center networking environment to include both the virtualized and physical networking environment, including application visibility to not only improve visibility for the purposes of accelerating micro-segmentation but also enhancing visibility for improved operations and troubleshooting.
And beyond that, as software-defined networks become a more regular part of a good networking strategy, federal customers are maturing along with the products. The Department of Defense (DoD) has already issued guidelines on how to deploy the platform, making it a go-to for DoD agencies, which makes sense because software-defined networking (SDN) can help agencies meet the needs of their missions more quickly, efficiently and securely than traditional legacy environments like data centers.
SDN allows IT to better meet their mission needs. With an efficient and automated management system, agencies will find they are not only better equipped for security but also to leverage digital transformation trends such as cloud or IT modernization – a persisting demand in government.
Moving hand-in-glove with the migration to SDN, VMware is also pushing customers to take advantage of the cloud as much as possible. This is evidenced in the VMworld announcement of their partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), where VMware is making their entire VMware Software-Defined Data Center stack directly available on bare metal for use with an on-demand cloud provider. The idea here is to allow customers to take advantage of skill sets and features they already know and marry them with the flexibility, scalability and resiliency of the AWS infrastructure.
For those who are still unsure of making a long term commitment to virtual machines, VMware responded with further develop on their hypervisor agnostic version of NSX called NSX-T. This new offering shows that the NSX platform is rapidly evolving to something that is now relevant not only in private data centers but now in the cloud, containers, and with other hypervisors. In some respects there has already been a strategic shift with some of the features being placed in NSX-T rather than NSX-V. I believe this signals where the platform is likely headed with strong support across a multi-cloud based architecture whether it be private or public. Additionally, customers will freely have the capability to move between NSX-V and NSX-T depending on how their needs evolve. That kind of flexibility allows the customer to adapt at their own rate and on their own terms as in pertains to their cloud strategy.
That kind of agile environment is the future of VMware. While the company has dominated the private data center segment of the market, it’s quickly realizing that the number of legacy environments are quickly shrinking due to massive migration to the cloud. A multi-cloud architecture is likely the future approach that will be pursued by both government and commercial entities. VMware recognizes that shift and they’re making innovative technology offerings to address those future customer’s needs. That’s why Iron Bow is proud to have partnered with VMware for nearly 15 years, offering our client’s the most innovative network solutions available.