Having recently attended VMWorld 2014 in Barcelona I was amazed at the volume of interest in VMWare's NSX platform. The official NSX launch has been much anticipated by the faithful and boy, we weren't let down! Besides the official keynote launch, there were dozens of workshops and hands on labs to get everyone started.
Attending the partner round table event highlighted one key thing: VMWare’s traditional partner base doesn’t know where to start with NSX! Technology aside, they are used to selling to systems virtualisation guys, leaving NSX - a network virtualisation technology- targeted at network teams who have been brainwashed by Cisco for the last 30 years. There is no doubt that these partners are going to struggle in breaking this mindset, a mindset that will, however, need to be broken in order to drive forward the fundamental shift in the way networking is going to be delivered in the data centre.
As specialists in data centre technologies, particularly networking, we know that the industry has officially changed. The "Traditional Networking Silo" has gone and technology practices are coming together in a way that is making it no longer possible to run in silos. So brace yourself people, you’d better get on this virtualisation train or you are going to be left behind! NSX is developing at a phenomenal pace and, with huge customer and technology partner interest, features and functionality are constantly evolving. Not to mention the coming together of the two code streams (NSX-V and NSX-MV) in 2015 promising a feature rich platform that enables network automation through multiple cloud suites. Personally, I see the key benefit at the moment being the service integration, with advanced technologies particularly in the network and security space. Technology partners include Arista Networks (for VXLAN gateways) and Palo Alto for advanced distributed firewall features.
The distributed firewall feature coupled with technology like Palo Alto delivers the killer function every security person has been longing for… Micro-Segmentation. This is game changing for the industry and I can't wait to start talking to customers about it! There are two key areas that micro-segmentation addresses: Firstly, there has always been some inherent concerns around security within the hypervisor, concerns which are now being addressed head on; advanced firewall features secures each virtual machine at the vNIC kernel level before data even touches the distributed switch. In addition, policies can be object based and can be created, moved or deleted depending on the rules applicable to a specific virtual machine. Secondly, micro-segmentation directly challenges the way networks are secured which was traditionally through VLAN segmentation. Although this approach could still be used, micro-segmentation removes the need for such architectures and complex multi-tier environments can be flattened and secured through virtual machine traffic flows at the vNIC level.
At Gyrocom we predicted this shift in the industry years ago and made very early moves to ensure we’d be ready for it when it arrived. Well it’s here. And we’re ready! Together with VMWare we have been able to prepare our skilled teams for what lies ahead. This is going to be an interesting time as we look to not only educate and guide our enterprise customers on this technology journey, but also work towards addressing the fundamental shift in organisational delivery and operations. A paradigm shift is required within the software defined data centre, but delivering and maintaining such a model will enable the enterprise to take advantage of technologies traditionally embraced by large web companies and service providers.