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NSX, and its new chief, take center stage at VMWorld

Brandon Butler | Sept. 2, 2016
VMware hopes NSX will be the central platform for managing public clouds from Amazon, Microsoft and Google

-IT Automation: Another 40% of NSX users are deploying the virtual networking overlay software primarily for the benefits of being able to more easily spin up and down virtual networks as needed. Whereas physical networks can take days or weeks to provision, virtual networks can be automatically provisioned using APIs. A key tenet of NSX is its ability to run atop any networking equipment, whether that be Cisco routers and switches or some combination of white box hardware.

-Application Continuity: About 20% of NSX sales are driven by using the platform for facilitating disaster recovery, backup, multi-data center pooling of resources and cross-cloud migration of applications across two or more environments that are running NSX.

NSX tomorrow

During the keynotes at VMWorld NSX’s chief technology strategy officer Guido Appenzeller demonstrated a technical preview of functionality the company plans to add to NSX that would allow what he calls cross-cloud networking. The idea is that instead of NSX being deployed as a piece of on-premises licensed software, NSX would be available from major IaaS cloud vendors like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. Customers could run NSX in their own data centers and also in multiple public clouds. Doing so would let customers have the same overlay network topology in their on-premises data center and the public cloud, whether it be AWS, Azure or Google. Appenzeller says this process uses an agent-based approach.

Customers can encrypt data transferring between the cloud and on-prem, they can burst workloads to the cloud and across clouds, and they can get visibility into all network traffic happening across the hybrid environment.

VMware is evolving NSX in other ways too. There used to only be one NSX product that included all the software features. In the last year VMware created different tiers for purchasing NSX licenses: standard, advanced and enterprise, showing the evolving nature of the product and appealing it to different size enterprise environments (Standard starts at $1,995 while enterprise is $6,995). With the addition of cross-cloud functionality for NSX, it could soon be available as a SaaS, meaning customers could spin up and down instances of NSX as needed.

“Today we’re selling primarily into private clouds,” Ramaswami says, noting that the majority of NSX sales are deployed atop vSphere. Customers are able to run NSX on non-VMware hypervisors such as the open source KVM. Ebay, for example is a customer that has a large NSX deployment on non-ESXi (VMware’s hypervisor). “Our customers are going to be running workloads either on a VMware private cloud, a public cloud, they could be running in containers,” he said. “Regardless of where they’re running applications and workloads, we can secure those, provide visibility and we can automate those.”


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