VMware's software-defined data center will include NSX network virtualization

VMware to virtualize networks by combining vCloud networking and security with Nicira technology

Last week, at a Strategic Forum for Institutional Investors, VMware presented its strategy on the growing importance of the software-defined data center (SDDC) by saying the move from the physical to a software-defined architecture is a necessary step toward delivering the cloud. Through the software-defined data center, VMware said it would extend the benefits of virtualization to all areas of the data center: network, security, storage, and management.

As part of that vision, VMware revealed its intentions to merge the company's homegrown vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS) product line with the technology that it acquired last year in the $1.26 billion acquisition of Nicira, an open source software-defined networking (SDN) startup. This new single-product family, dubbed VMware NSX, is based on a common technology foundation that works across multiple hypervisors and cloud management systems beyond those from VMware.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Keep an eye out for changes in VMware's public cloud strategy | VMware pledges to improve security, considers scheduling patch updates | Track the latest trends in virtualization in InfoWorld's Virtualization Report newsletter. ]

Currently dominating the enterprise server virtualization market, VMware appears to be turning its attention from the virtual data center to a much longer-term play within the hybrid and public cloud. Beyond server virtualization, there are other legs to the stool of a software-defined data center or a hybrid and public cloud that VMware would have to achieve -- and one of those requirements is network virtualization.

Early on, VMware's vSwitch in the ESX hypervisor did little more than connect the virtual server NIC to the physical NIC. To become relevant in a modern software-defined data center, VMware needed to improve network programmability and add higher-level features such as VLANs, firewalls, and load balancing, then provide gateways to allow virtual machines to easily move between clouds.

By combining the best of Nicira NVP and VMware vCloud Network and Security into a single unified platform, it sounds as though VMware NSX finally provides the company with the capabilities needed to fully address that challenge.

Hatem Naguib, Vice President of Networking & Security at VMware, states, "VMware NSX paves the way for enterprises to rapidly deploy networking and security for any application, on any general purpose hardware, non-disruptively, by enabling the fundamental abstraction of networks from networking hardware -- creating the virtual network."

Naguib goes on to describe VMware NSX as exposing "a complete suite of simplified logical networking elements and services including logical switches, routers, firewalls, load balancers, VPN, QoS, monitoring, and security; arranged in any topology with isolation and multi-tenancy through programmable APIs -- deployed on top of any physical IP network fabric, resident with any compute hypervisor, connecting to any external network, and consumed by any cloud management platform (e.g. vCloud, OpenStack, CloudStack)."

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