VMware NSX – Optimizing Your Data Center’s Network Virtualization

March 10, 2015
Editorial Staff

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Editorial Staff

Previously, we defined the VMware-coined Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC), which combines the three virtualization technologies of compute, storage, and network.

A business logic layer then translates APIs, SLAs, and policies for automation, ultimately increasing efficiency and reducing cost. In today’s post, we’ll discuss networking, arguably the most complex of the three virtualized components.

Network Virtualization Challenges

Network virtualization has been lagging behind compute virtualization (often referred to as server virtualization) and storage virtualization, largely due to manual processes which constrain the provisioning of network resources. This affects the timing of application deployment, significantly reducing the operational impact of utilizing virtualization technology. Likewise, an error in network provisioning could affect the performance of a nearby application, which is often the result of a manual process that leads to network downtime or, in a worst-case scenario, a security breach.

To put it bluntly, fragmented management limits an organization’s ability to deploy, move, scale, and protect applications and data.  It also can create information and management siloes in which one system/team is not aware of the impact it is having on another. Data centers have reached a point where software-defined automation is more effective for business continuity and more appealing to the bottom line than the traditional hardware-defined manual provisioning process.

Network Virtualization Is Far Less Complex than Imagined

As illustrated in the below image, network virtualization follows a similar thread to compute virtualization in that an abstract hypervisor layer reproduces the required services via automated software; only, compute is redirected to an arbitrary virtual machine whereas network is redirected to an arbitrary virtual network.

IT administrators can leverage network virtualization to repurpose and transport their physical network resources, including:

  • Logical switches
  • Gateways
  • Routing
  • Firewalls
  • Load balancers
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
  • Application Performance Indicators (APIs)

Improving Enterprise Data Center Efficiency with Network Virtualization

Network virtualization is not for the faint of heart; organizations with more than 500 virtual machines will realize the greatest benefits from network virtualization as it delivers immediate benefits for innovative multi-tenant cloud service providers, enterprise private clouds, and multi-hypervisor cloud environments. In short, the typical use cases of network virtualization include:

  • Data Center Automation for rapid application deployment and network provisioning, ideal for integration with virtual and physical services.
  • Self-service Enterprise IT enhances development, test, and production in isolated environments with distributed security and network services and centralized administration.
  • Multi-tenant Cloud Infrastructure to maximize hardware sharing across tenants and physical sites.
  • Microsegmentation for increased perimeter-centric network security.

VMware NSX – The Ideal Network Virtualization Solution

NSX accelerates network provisioning and streamlines operations by reducing the time and effort to provision network and security services. Each virtual network is customizable for the workloads it supports and is isolated from all other virtual networks, providing the disaster recovery peace-of-mind for network engineers when provisioning applications.

Network security is also vastly improved with NSX since networks are no longer tied solely to IP addresses. Rules can be enabled based on virtual containers, applications, and Active Directory identities. Additionally, policy reinforcement is also more dynamic since security policies are automatically attached to workloads at the time of VM creation. Security policies are distributed and enforced at the ingress/egress ports of each workload’s vSwitch, which is far more effective that the traditional physical network approach.

For organizations with high numbers of virtual machines, network provisioning and security can be a monumental manual labor. Contact a SoftwareONE Technical Specialist to discuss how NSX can help simplify and streamline your VM networking processes.

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