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VMware SDN enhances network service allocation automation

VMware's Modern Network framework helps spur NSX to be a viable contender in the SDN market.

VMware's Modern Network framework, built on its NSX software-defined networking product, offers next-generation security and improves network service allocation automation. The framework advances VMware's network portfolio, just as the market nears another transition.

Historically, enterprise network devices came as turnkey hardware and software bundles. But this approach creates vendor lock-in and onerous maintenance work.

"Companies recognized that their network architectures need to be faster, offer more elastically, and scale up and out. Consequently, traditional data center, campus and branch networks are evolving away from static to dynamic designs" said Brad Casemore, research vice president of data center networks at IDC.

Software-defined networking (SDN) products offer these dynamic capabilities. VMware's Modern Network framework uses NSX technology to automate and speed up network service allocation in cloud-based data centers. But to stay ahead of competitors, VMware must incorporate emerging technologies into its SDN offerings, such as container management.

Inside VMware's networking portfolio

Networks are often large and complex and, in some cases, generate millions of alerts for management. IT organizations must have tools to manage network connections.

VMware vRealize Network Insight, Edge Network Intelligence and the Virtual Cloud Network include analytics that show network uptime and help to troubleshoot issues. VRealize Network Insight tracks the life of a packet from source to destination at the physical and virtual level. Edge Network Intelligence analyzes network health and application delivery. The Virtual Cloud Network is VMware's range of SDN products in its portfolio, including NSX and SD-WAN.

Firewall technology is another area of VMware's network strategy. Physical network designs place firewalls at the network entryway and closely connects them to the network layer. VMware disperses mini firewalls throughout the network and attaches them to applications.

The Modern Network framework

VMware's Modern Network framework for cloud-based data centers offers organizations automation features designed to speed up network service allocation.

The framework consists of Modern App Connectivity Services, Multi-Cloud Network Virtualization and Physical Network Infrastructure:

  • Modern App Connectivity Services enable developers to connect application microservices. This feature self-service tools for users to allocate network resources without IT department help.
  • Multi-Cloud Network Virtualization provides networking functions, such as security and load balancing.
  • The Physical Network Infrastructure controls any hardware that supports network capacity.

VMware built the Modern Network framework architecture on its NSX product, which delivers a Layer 2 to Layer 7 virtual networking stack. This stack includes a firewall, switching, routing, security analytics, advanced load balancing and container networking.

The future of VMware SDN

The transition from hardware to software opened the door to VMware in the networking market. VMware is the market leader in SDN, with 56.7% market share compared to 13.2% for long-time network technology vendor Cisco, according to IDC's network infrastructure quarterly analysis in Q2 2020.

VMware's SDN strategy includes a range of extensive network features, but it does have its limitations. For example, many VMware products only work with its own management tools.

"In many cases, corporations have other vendors' systems in place," Casemore said.

If a system of networking hardware and software works well, it is difficult to convince organizations to migrate to another vendor. The network is core to any business, and organizations are leery to tinker with its infrastructure.

The networking market is at a major transition point. Container adoption is on the rise and the technology requires specific management needs, such as container orchestration. VMware dominates the virtualization market, but its approach with container technology could open the door to competitors such as Cisco, according to Casemore. How much momentum VMware maintains depends on how well it addresses container management and emerging network challenges.

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