VMware Advances Networking Ambitions

Rajiv Ramaswami joined VMware as general manager of the Networking and Security Business Unit (NSBU) in April of this year, after spending the last six years as general manager of Broadcom’s Infrastructure and Networking Group. VMware recently reported its second quarter fiscal 2016 earnings and the NSBU, in particular the NSX network virtualization product, was highlighted by CEO Pat Gelsinger as a “rockstar.”

“Our license bookings more than doubled in the first half of this year for NSX compared to last year, but I’d say we’re only in the second inning of a nine inning game here,” Ramaswami told Enterprise Networking Planet. “Now we’re in the scale aspect of the business.”

Ramaswami said that the initial phase of NSX and network virtualization was about establishing real use cases, of which there are many. The most obvious use case is for NSX to enable micro-segmentation of networks, which in turn limits risk and narrows the potential attack surface.

NSX is also being used for cloud automation, as a core component of enabling fully automated cloud deployments that have networking capabilities. The automation piece leverages the rest of the VMware portfolio, including vSphere and vRealize. Another emerging use-case for NSX is to enable application continuity.

“What NSX does is it provides the layer 2 overlay over any physical network,” Ramaswami explained. “Once you have a layer 2 overlay, you can have applications that extend seamlessly across data centers.”

Ramaswami said that NSX provides the “glue” to make two data centers look like one from an application continuity and resource perspective.

By percentage, Ramaswami said that roughly 40 percent of NSX customers use the technology for the micro-segmentation security use case, while another 40 percent use it for IT automation and 20 percent for application continuity.

“Security is top of mind for everyone we talk to,” Ramaswami said. “Most traffic is inside a data center, so the problem is once an attacker breaches the perimeter, the entire data center is wide open.”

With NSX, the east-west data center traffic can be monitored for threats and provides fine-grained security controls.

Looking at the cloud, Ramaswami said that some of the largest NSX deployments are OpenStack cloud installations. An emerging area for NSX is containers, which might be running on top of a hypervisor.

“I look at containers as a logical extension for NSX, but I’d say we’re in the early days there,” Ramaswami said. “We do expect to use NSX for container networking and expect to hear more from us on that in the future.”

The next generation of NSX is known now as NSX-T and can run on non-VMware hypervisors, including open-source KVM.

“You should think of NSX as extending everywhere, we run on vSphere, we run on KVM, we will run in containers and we will extend into the public cloud,” Ramaswami said. “Our vision for NSX is wherever you’re running workloads, we want to be there to automate and secure those workloads.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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