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What are some of the perks promised by VMware NSX?

VMware's network virtualization offering promises to speed up tasks that traditionally have slowed an enterprise from responding to immediate needs.

Why should I use a network virtualization product, such as VMware NSX? How would this benefit my enterprise?

Network virtualization offers a wide range of benefits to the enterprise. Perhaps the biggest benefit is speed; VMware claims NSX has advanced network virtualization capabilities that can ease the cumbersome process of physical network deployment and configuration with a provisioning process that takes only a fraction of the time. VMware says by using NSX, administrators can create, provision and modify networks in seconds, as opposed to days or weeks.

The promise of speed and simplicity of network virtualization also opens the door for automated or self-service provisioning. Just as server virtualization allows for provisioning automation, network virtualization can allow business units or authorized users to provision unique virtual networks for new applications or development work. Once a virtual network has outlived its usefulness, it can be deleted and its services pooled for redistribution to other virtual networks.

Adding network services is easier. Since services like firewalls or quality of service are available as software components -- or virtual appliances -- there is no need to install physical devices to perform those functions. Network services can be applied in response to demand almost anywhere within the virtual network topology, and then added or removed when needs change.

A final benefit to virtualized networking from an offering such as NSX is its multi-tenancy capabilities. Even though virtual networks share the same cables, network interface cards, switches, routers and other physical network devices, virtual networks are logically isolated from each other to prevent data leakage and preserve security between virtual networks and VMs.

Virtual networking does have limitations. As with server virtualization, virtual networks can enhance network utilization and improve organization. But virtual network bandwidth and reliability are always limited by the underlying physical network, so adopters should expect a practical limit to the number of virtual networks or corresponding performance available to an enterprise. As the use of network virtualization grows, some organizations may need to apply workload balancing techniques or make improvements to the underlying physical network infrastructure to accommodate virtual network performance. The same limitation occurs in server virtualization where the given server can only provide a finite amount of processor cycles and memory space for VMs.

This was last published in August 2014

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