Revamped VMware NSX-T Data Center Is ‘The Future’ Of Networking


VMware is looking to shake up the software-defined network world with its revamped NSX-T Data Center solution that delivers new levels of advanced automation, intrinsic security and network infrastructure as code.

“Everyone wants cloud-native. What has always been a big stumbling block is the networking, security and automation. When you look at the new NSX-T, it’s a massive improvement on what we’re seeing out there,” said Vinu Thomas, chief technology officer at Presidio, a New-York-based solution provider powerhouse and top VMware partner. “It’s an extension of networking ability, so kind of multi-cloud networking is great. The new automation, especially the integration with things like Ansible, Chef and Puppet so you have APIs where you can really create some scripting, is powerful. It’s the future.”

NSX-T Data Center 2.4 meets the virtual cloud networking and security needs for enterprises while giving VMware customers a public cloud-like experience.

“The future of the data center is making a data center look, feel and smell like a public cloud and then actually tying it into the public cloud – that feels like a business of tomorrow as opposed to yesterday, which is racking and stacking boxes, hooking them all up and making them work,” said Tom Gillis, senior vice president and general manager for VMware’s networking and security in an interview with CRN.

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The NSX-T 2.4 includes the ability to provision new networks and services with a single API call or a few clicks, which makes NSX the industry’s simplest way to manage an application or software-based network, according to Gillis.

“We have new APIs that allow a customer to express a policy in an almost English-like language. It’s a programming language, but it’s a very simple, high level policy,” said Gillis. “The policy can say, ‘A development environment should never touch the Internet, but a production environment can touch the Internet but never touch the development environment. That’s one line of English language but that could easily be 10,000 firewall rules using the traditional networking approach.”

The NSX-T 2.4 features a new declarative API model that simplifies network automation using human-readable JSON configuration, eliminating the use of a list of commands that can lead to human error in network configuration. It also takes in simple, user-defined terms about an application’s required connectivity and security that can be easily replicated and applied consistently across platforms.

Gillis said channel partners can take advantage of this automation and code by building it into a customer’s workflow and processes to achieve a public cloud experience in their own environment. “Having the networking piece be treated as software instead of a collection of boxes where someone has to log in, make changes, update this and open a ticket – that was the only way of doing it. With NSX, the network is now code. That is a very powerful thing,” he said.

Another new key feature in the NSX-T 2.4 is a new user interface built on HTML5 that gives customers a simpler network management console. The interface provides guidance to reduce the number of clicks and page hops required to complete configuration tasks.

The NSX-T also includes installation enhancements such as Ansible modules that enable automation of installation workflows.

“We created this whole new user interface that’s focused on making the product easier to use,” said Gillis. “There’s a terrific opportunity for channel partners to take network virtualization into the mid-market and bring this promise of self-service, one click infrastructure to your data center everywhere.”

On the security front, the new NSX-T now supports L7 application awareness, identity-based firewalling, agentless endpoint protection via third-party integrations, and service insertion to build a security posture built around application context, according to Gillis. NSX-T 2.4 introduces a new level of analytics and visualization with a new management dashboard and user interface, as well as support for Splunk and VMware vRealize Log Insight.

“It allows a customer to have better security than they would have using traditional hardware-based firewalls and switches,” said Gillis. “We wrap that all up into a single software package that really makes good on this promise of gluing together the private and public cloud.”

Presidio’s Thomas said the new NSX-T will open the door to shift existing NSX-V customers to the new offering.

“We have customers who are doing NSX-V and there’s a nice roadmap and upgrade to NSX-T, especially if they’re looking at a multiple cloud world. There’s a lot of opportunity for us to sell this as part of enterprise agreements, but also a big portion of it is on the professional and managed service side of it,” said Thomas.

With nearly 10,000 customers using VMware’s virtual networking product, NSX is deployed in 82 of the Fortune 100 businesses and 70 percent of Fortune Global 500. It supports cloud connectivity and security across AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud and VMware Cloud on AWS.