By Chris Wolf, Americas CTO
VMware has been on a journey to bring the same benefits of server virtualisation to the network for over a decade, starting with virtual switches, accelerating to our vCloud Networking and Security suite, and culminating with our 2012 Nicira acquisition and launch of our VMware NSX network virtualisation platform.
In the new Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Center Networking, VMware received recognition for its visionary approach. In fact, VMware had the highest rating for Completeness of Vision. We believe this level of recognition is remarkable considering:
- 2014 marked the very first year that VMware was considered for the Data Centre Networking Magic Quadrant
- VMware is the only pure-play software vendor recognised in the Magic Quadrant
We believe the validation is clear – the world of data centre networking has been forever changed.
Major Cloud Players Agree
VMware’s initial effort to virtualise network switching has also been validated by other public cloud service providers such as Amazon and Google. Those providers are also building software-based virtualised network stacks that run on commodity x86 infrastructure and can interconnect with proprietary hardware-based solutions when needed.
So, even if you look to other cloud providers for inspiration, the vision is the same, and it’s getting validated at massive scale. That said, VMware differs in a fundamental, but significant way. The overwhelming majority of enterprises are architecting for a hybrid cloud future. If you want a pure networking and security software stack to give you complete portability and centralised management and operations in a hybrid cloud, NSX is it. If you want an Amazon-like networking and security experience in your data centre, NSX is the technology to get you there. Remember – Amazon’s roots are in retail. If hardware-oriented networking and security solutions could deliver a better total cost of ownership, don’t you think that Amazon would have used those solutions?
This is Just the Beginning
In my short time as Americas CTO, I have been blown away by NSX customer interest. Early adopters were initially looking at network virtualisation for business continuity benefits such as being able to move workloads between data centres without having to reconfigure network or firewall settings, or worry about physical network dependencies. That said, agility has become the primary driver. Traditional data centre networking and security remains the primary workload provisioning bottleneck. A VM with an OS and application stack be can delivered in minutes, but it can take a week or longer to provision the network stack and firewall rules. If a workload is moved to a new data centre or cloud, you may have to do it all over again.
Our NSX technology allows security policies and firewall rules to be mapped to objects (VMs) instead of IP addresses. That alone can provide a massive reduction in the costs and complexity associated with traditional security management. One of our clients reduced their firewall rule set from 150,000 to less than 5,000 rules. This frees security specialists to worry about more important things like safely empowering business agility.
NSX isn’t just a VMware technology – it’s an extensible platform with a rapidly growing ecosystem of third party networking and security software partners that have built software that plugs right into the stack. Best of all, when operational tasks are automated, partner solutions that plugged into the platform simply go along for the ride.
Like I’ve said before, automation should be a feature, not a professional service. Building a true software-defined data centre, where value is derived through software will let you continue to safely automate more and more, while maintaining hardware and provider independence and lowering costs. There is a massive industry of traditional IT heavyweights that will tell you that this approach is bad for you, mainly because their bottom line will always depend on substantial professional services to go along with any technology deployment. They don’t only get you at the initial deployment, but also for every upgrade as well. Network virtualisation is one of many key technologies that will allow you to break away from a legacy IT methodology and into a scalable and flexible automated environment. When you add that to a software-defined data centre with tightly integrated management stack, automated service delivery and remediation comes “out of the box.” While this isn’t the end to professional services, service offerings will transition more to enabling unique business requirements rather than constantly re-inventing the technology wheel.
It’s good to see Gartner – a strong voice of the IT community – include our vision in its latest Data Center Networking Magic Quadrant.
What are your thoughts?