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VMware NSX portfolio aims to unify local and cloud workloads

VMware's NSX strategy aims to help enterprises stitch together data centers and cloud environments, though it could be overkill for IT shops with simpler needs that are more specific.

LAS VEGAS -- VMware's latest vision for network computing is, to no one's surprise, an expanded VMware NSX portfolio...

that aims to deliver a virtual cloud network to connect and secure any cloud, infrastructure and application.

Of course, the veracity of such ambitious claims won't be determined until large corporate shops put it through its paces. But VMware executives at the Dell Technologies World conference here this week said VMware's NSX strategy -- now with five different products mostly driven by the company's underlying microsegmentation technology -- can help crystallize that vision.

"We are trying to help customers break the constant cycle of racking and stacking networking hardware in order to speed up the implementation of digital transformation," said Rajiv Ramaswami, VMware's COO for products and services.

VMware's NSX portfolio encompasses a software-defined approach to tie together the edge, core data center and cloud environments. Among the added capabilities are the following:

  • Integration of NSX SD-WAN with both NSX Data Center and NSX Cloud;
  • NSX Cloud support for applications that run in Microsoft Azure;
  • NSX Data Center support for containerized cloud-native and bare-metal applications; and
  • Telco and network functions virtualization and networking performance optimized for distributed workloads in NSX Data Center.

"We are extending NSX Cloud to be able to secure and connect native workloads running in Microsoft Azure to go along with the same support we have for AWS," Ramaswami said. "This should allow users to get consistent security running in their own data centers, as well as in an AWS or Azure data center."

VMware said it has improved integration between VeloCloud and NSX Data Center to provide microsegmentation for applications from the edge to the core and to the cloud. It has also added capabilities that connect applications and data among top public cloud providers AWS, Microsoft and Google, but the extent of support for other clouds that serve niche or vertical markets remains unclear. Some wonder if VMware's NSX strategy suffers from tunnel vision and must expand its scope.

Brian Kirsch, IT instructor, Milwaukee Area Technical CollegeBrian Kirsch

"What about those clouds that just do SAP or health record systems or billing? Are they going to be supported in that mix of AWS or Amazon environments?" said Brian Kirsch, an IT instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College. "For some, it will be all about making sure the company you chose to partner up with is on that list."

VMware is on the right track with its virtual cloud network initiative, Kirsch said. Most large companies need a single network vision that handles all on- and off-premises environments. And with NSX and its microsegmentation capabilities, the company has a good chance of success. He questioned whether the company can efficiently handle the steady flow of applications and data among on-site AWS, Azure and Google cloud environments -- but if they can, the rewards could be substantial.

"If they are able to pull that off, it could make Cisco pretty nervous," Kirsch said.

VMware's NSX vision targets big IT shops

If they are able to pull [it] off, it could make Cisco pretty nervous.
Brian KirschIT instructor, Milwaukee Area Technical College

Another analyst with a large market researcher agreed VMware's updated NSX portfolio has its strengths, but wondered if most users need all the pieces.

"How does this apply to all those who aren't large corporate shops and haven't even seriously begun a digital transformation project?" he said. "[VMware] can't focus on just one or two [NSX] products, but how do they justify how smaller or less advanced shops leverage the whole suite in their everyday operations?"

The revitalized virtual cloud network functionality is comprised of the VMware Data Center to handle the networking and security chores for all workloads; NSX Cloud to handle cloud-native network services, such as NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud for WAN connectivity; NSX Hybrid Connect for data center and cloud migration; and AppDefense for more modern security software.

VMware executives said its NSX portfolio has gained the support of several large software and services companies, each in pursuit of digital transformation initiatives, such as Accenture, Arista Networks, Dimension Data, IBM Global Technology Services, Microsoft and, of course, Dell EMC.

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