VMware NSX is essential to your cloud journey – now and in the future

VMware NSX provides consistent networking and security for traditional and next-generation applications across private, hybrid, and public clouds.

This year at VMworld US in Las Vegas and VMworld Europe in Barcelona I had an opportunity to speak with dozens of VMware NSX enterprise customers about how they are using the cloud and where they are in their cloud journeys. I also briefed them on our newly launched VMware Cloud Services offerings, including the role NSX plays in each.

In this post I am going to address some of the common questions I’ve been getting since we launched. Such as, “How is VMware Cloud on AWS different than VMware NSX Cloud?” I’ll also discuss elements of NSBU’s (Networking & Security Business Unit) general cloud strategy.

Getting networking and security to work together across data center and cloud infrastructure silos can be challenging. But the operations side is even more challenging because each cloud provider has its own network and security constructs, policies, APIs, and tools, which require specific knowledge and expertise.

VMware NSX addresses the networking and security operational challenges inherent with using multiple private and public clouds, particularly when used in large scale. For example:

  • Inconsistent constructs and policies from one cloud provider to another.
  • Policies that are limited to a single cloud virtual network, availability zone, or region.
  • Lack of operational visibility into East-West traffic flows within and across cloud virtual networks.
  • Operations tools that are specific to each cloud provider, and mostly focused on infrastructure health metrics.
  • The NSBU cloud strategy is to deliver value to customers at each stage of their cloud journey, whether they are consuming services via a private cloud on-premises or a leading public cloud. And whether they need networking and security for traditional applications or next-generation application frameworks, such as containerized applications.

    In this post we will look at how NSX is delivering to customers consistent networking and security services, and operational model, for applications running across multiple clouds.

    VMware Cloud on AWS: Hybrid Cloud Nirvana
    Many customers have told us they are eager to move some of their on-premises applications to the public cloud, but it has been slow going for them due to the many operational challenges they encounter. For example, differing VM formats, policies, tools, and skillsets, to name a few.

    VMware recently conducted a study of our customers and their use of the cloud. The results showed that 77% of VMware customers are adopting public clouds, but only 6% of their application workloads are running in the public cloud today. (The large majority of virtualized application workloads are still running on-premises, mostly on vSphere.) This data tells us that enterprises want to move to the public cloud, but they are still in the early stages and moving cautiously, largely due to the operational, governance, and compliance challenges.

    Last month at VMworld we launched VMware Cloud on AWS. This cloud solution helps customers overcome many of the challenges that have prevented enterprises from running their applications in the public cloud. You can think of VMware Cloud on AWS as VMware Cloud Foundation optimized to run on dedicated, bare-metal AWS hardware. The complete virtualization stack is VMware – vSphere-based.

    This solution allows our customers to vMotion existing on-premises vSphere applications to AWS. No need to convert virtual machine formats, re-package the application, or conduct extensive testing. VMC-based applications also benefit from access to a broad set of AWS services, elastic capacity, and global reach.

    VMware Cloud on AWS can be used by itself, with no connection to your on-premises data center. Or it can be used in a hybrid cloud architecture, connecting with your VMware private cloud on-premises. This gives you a true hybrid cloud – with a common management and operational model across private and public clouds.

    VMware NSX plays a central role in many of the VMware Cloud on AWS use cases, overcoming the networking and security operational challenges discussed earlier, and delivering significant business value to enterprises. Some of the key use cases include cloud-based disaster recovery, backups, capacity expansion, bursting, geographical expansion, data sovereignty, and data center consolidation. (NSX can also deliver for VMware Cloud on AWS environments the same use cases you have on-premises, such as micro segmentation security and IT automation.)

    At VMworld some customers told me they are thrilled about VMware Cloud on AWS because they view it as a simple way to reduce their on-premises data center footprint (i.e., data center consolidation), or execute on internal mandates to move applications to the public cloud. As one customer put in, “This service allows us to get the guts of the organization outside of the data center and into the public cloud, without having to re-factor or re-write applications.”

    One of the key benefits of VMware Cloud on AWS is that it allows customers to use in the public cloud the same VMware tools (and third-party tools), policies, and skillsets they use on-premises. So there’s zero retraining of staff to run their vSphere-based applications in AWS, the leading public cloud provider. Economic modeling shows that VMware Cloud on AWS is cost effective when compared to running application workloads on-premises.

    VMware Cloud on AWS was jointly engineered by VMware and AWS. VMware Cloud on AWS is consumed as a service, and is sold and supported directly by VMware. In addition to VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation also powers IBM Cloud, OVH, Rackspace, Virtustream, and about 4,000 other VMware Cloud Providers globally.

    So that’s how NSX addresses your vSphere-based applications running in AWS. You may be asking, “What about cloud-native applications?” NSX has you covered there too…

    VMware NSX Cloud: Native Public Clouds
    Other VMware customers are further along in their journey to the public cloud. They may have mandates that all new applications must be designed for the public cloud (i.e., Cloud First). Or they have application modernization strategies that involved refactoring or rewriting existing applications to be cloud-native.

    For these customers, VMware launched VMware Cloud Services, a set of services that include VMware NSX Cloud. NSX Cloud is focused on providing consistent networking and security for applications running natively in public clouds, such as on Amazon EC2 instances. The service improves operational scalability, control, and visibility – with lower OpEx – for networking and security across cloud-native applications. NSX Cloud is consumed as a service that is sold and supported directly by VMware.

    The initial availability service of NSX Cloud that was launched at VMworld supports AWS and the following use cases:

  • Consistent Micro-Segmentation Security: Control over East-West traffic between application workloads running natively in public clouds. Define security policy once and apply to workloads anywhere in AWS – across multiple virtual networks, availability zones, and regions. Precise operational control of micro segmentation policies ensures that security is consistently applied AWS (and other clouds in the future).
  • Precise Control Over Cloud Networking: More precise control over cloud networking topologies, traffic flows, IP addressing, and protocols for your application workloads running in AWS. For example, you can provision consistent application stacks or services – including networking and security – across multiple VPCs, AZs, and regions. Or stretch NSX Cloud subnets to run applications across multiple VPCs, AZs, and regions.
  • NSX Cloud also improves Day 2 operational visibility. Standard interfaces and protocols provide access to the network, security, and compliance data you need from your cloud networks. Flow, packet, and event information is available via IPFIX, Traceflow, Port Mirroring, and Syslog. This data can be consumed by your existing operations tools, and used to enable deep visibility for monitoring, troubleshooting, and auditing, and ensuring the health and availability of your applications running in the public cloud.

    Longer-term, the main value of NSX Cloud is a simple and scalable operational model across multiple public cloud providers. Today, NSX Cloud supports AWS, but other public clouds, such as Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), will be added in the future.

    VMware NSX Cloud complements the native services available from public cloud providers. You can continue to use the public cloud provider’s infrastructure and application services without limitation (e.g., AWS ELB, Route 53, AWS Direct Connect, and Amazon RDS).

    You may be wondering how NSX Cloud is different than VMware NSX on-premises. The simple answer is VMware NSX Cloud is for application workloads running natively in public clouds, while VMware NSX is for application workloads running in on-premises data centers or private clouds.

    Longer-term, however, the networking and security capabilities offered by each product/service will largely be the same. And both offerings will give you a single way to manage and operate networking and security services across multiple private and public clouds. Mostly the consumption model will be different: You will deploy and manage the NSX software on-premises or consume it as a service.

    Try VMware Cloud Services
    The customers I met with at VMworld are excited about all of the cloud innovation that came out of VMworld this year. As customers rationalize their applications and run them in multiple private and public clouds, NSX is ready to help enterprises with each stage of their journey, now and in the future.

    If you would like to try NSX Cloud, you can request access now and try it at no cost, with no commitment until November 30, 2017. Or contact VMware Sales about VMware Cloud on AWS. You can learn more at cloud.vmware.com.

    You can also watch the sessions presented at VMworld focused on NSX for the cloud:

  • NSX Everywhere: The Network Bridge for On-Premises, Private, and Native Public Clouds [NET3236SU]
  • NSX and VMware Cloud on AWS: Deep Dive [LHC2103BU]
  • NSX and VMware Cloud on AWS: The Path to Hybrid Cloud [LHC2105BU]
  • Using VMware NSX for Enhanced Networking and Security for AWS Native Workloads: Part 1 [MMC2046BU]
  • Using VMware NSX for Enhanced Networking and Security for AWS Native Workloads: Part 2 [MMC1532BU]
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