Answer

What kind of visibility does VMware NSX provide to a network admin?

Does the traditional network administrator have visibility into virtual machine ports with VMs running on NSX? For example, does NSX provide the same type of visibility as the Cisco Nexus 1000V?

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"Operational visibility is the key thing. With NSX as hypervisor sitting on ESX, you have a lot more visibility into both the physical world and virtual world," said Ravi Kagalavadi, principal system engineer for network virtualization at VMware.

Kagalavadi fielded these questions during his "Introducing VMware NSX Network Virtualization" keynote address at the Virtual Technology Users Group, or VTUG, Fall Forward 2013 event.

Attendees had questions whether VMware's fledgling software-defined networking (SDN) technology was an improvement over their existing networking environment and how it stacked up against the competition. In 2012, VMware paid $1.2 billion to acquire Nicira and its SDN intellectual property and incorporate that into NSX, which is one piece in VMware's vision of a software-defined data center. VMware claims NSX will allow network administrators to quickly spot and work around choke points and link failures, issues that have plagued today's network environments.

"Traditionally, the networking [administrators] were only able to start troubleshooting with a bridge call. There are a lot of problems because [the networking staff] does not have the end-to-end view," Kagalavadi said. "Now, given that [NSX] sits in the middle, we have a complete view in terms of the virtual and the physical world."

"[NSX] actually provides you with more visibility than [Cisco's Nexus] 1000V, because now we can look at the whole [network from] end to end: from the application, all the way going through our hypervisors, going through the tunnels, going through to the other side," Kagalavadi said. "[It's] not only at the port level per virtual machine; you can start troubleshooting end to end."

This was first published in October 2013

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