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How network automation can speed deployments and improve security

Ann Bednarz | Sept. 12, 2017
VMware shops discuss the benefits of network automation for security and management, but also for supporting agile projects.

 

Cultural challenges

Realizing the potential of NSX to automate and secure networks isn’t easy, however. For starters, it requires a cultural shift.

“It’s not just a technological change, there’s also a people and process change involved in it,” said Scott Goodman, product marketing manager at VMware. “We’re used to operating in silos, and NSX starts to blur those lines and break down those barriers. So it can be a little challenging to figure out who, exactly, is going to do what.”

Goodman moderated a discussion among Jabro, Pietrewicz, and Hrycaj. All three panelists echoed Goodman’s warning about the cultural challenges required for network automation.

“Getting the network and the security guys together in same room, on same page, was probably the most difficult part,” Jabro said. “For us, it was more of a social change than anything else.”

“One of the biggest challenges that I didn’t expect was the pushback from the network administrators,” Pietrewicz said.

“From our perspective, it was a tough transition at first, because this is a brand new way of looking at networking,” Hrycaj said.

VMware’s NSX decouples security functions from the physical infrastructure and embeds them into the hypervisor, which allows security policies to travel with virtual workloads.

“The cool thing is that you get to change how you think about your security posture instead of just us network guys thinking about IP addresses and port numbers and that’s it,” Hrycaj said. “Once we got our heads around that, and we got into the room with the security team, we were able to take what may have seemed like unrealistic expectations in the past, and turn that into something that we could do in a short amount of time.”

But “it takes a lot of training and it takes a lot of talking,” Hrycaj said. Over time, “it has increased our engagement with security, which is a good thing.”

 

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