Virtualization pioneer introduces more cloud-like capabilities to address increasingly decentralized IT environment
VMware is continuing to expand on its strategy of providing a software- and service-based network that can provide enterprises with cloud-like capabilities to help them adapt to a highly distributed IT world that needs fast access to high-performance applications from anywhere.
The Lowdown: The company is building on its Virtual Cloud Network offerings and its new Project Monterey with offerings unveiled this week that touch on its Tanzu Kubernetes platform, service mesh, and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) products.
The Details: VMware officials said the company wants to essentially flip the network upside down. Traditional data center networks were built using distinct hardware systems running such tasks as load balancing, firewalls, switches, and routers, and the applications had to adapt to the infrastructure. In its Modern Network framework, VMware is saying that infrastructure should cater to the needs of applications, with as many of the networking tasks done in software and services as possible.
This is important in an increasingly decentralized IT and business environment that includes a workforce that’s becoming more remote, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new VMware Virtual Cloud Network offerings include:
> Attribute-based access control policy: The policy, which will be added to VMware’s Tanzu Service Mesh, is designed to simplify application policy creation, essentially putting the onus of reporting the status of a device getting on the network on the endpoint itself rather than on the firewall. The feature is in preview.
> NSX Advanced Load Balancer integration: VMware is integrating the API-driven technology with Tanzu Service Mesh to enable developers using Kubernetes to launch applications with the required load balancing capabilities to ensure high availability and security. It will be available early next year.
> SmartNICs: Project Monterey, introduced in September with Intel and Nvidia, is designed to offload VMware virtualization and security functions from processors and onto smartNICs, intelligent network interface controllers that can run such tasks. VMware’s smartNICs can now run its NSX Services-Defined Firewall and eventually will be able to run other functions, like switching, routing, and load balancing.
> Project Antrea: The VMware initiative is an open-source cluster solution that enables developers using Kubernetes to create their own network to drive connections between containers.
> SD-WAN subscriptions: The addition to the vendor’s Future Ready Workforce Solution enables users working from home to pay for the SD-WAN connectivity via a subscription that will offer bandwidth of 350 Mbps to 1 Gbps.
> ‘Pre-flight check’: VMware’s SD-WAN managing and monitoring software includes new network modeling capabilities that will verify an application can be reached across both virtual and physical infrastructures, a step toward self-healing networks.
The Impact: The rapid changes in the IT environment driven by such trends as the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the fast-growing amount of data being generated is driving demand for tools that make it easier to access and secure applications and to ensure their performance and availability. VMware’s modern networking strategy is designed to ensure that the virtualization and security capabilities are easily accessible regardless of where users are while improving performance and driving down costs for organizations.
Background: VMware made its name with virtualization technology for servers, storage, and networks in the data center. However, the company – along with other established data center infrastructure vendors – is planting a flag in the hybrid cloud world, making its technology accessible on-premises, in the cloud, and increasingly at the edge, and ensuring seamless operations between those points. Adapting to new enterprise demands will be important going forward for both vendors and channel partners. IDC analysts are forecasting that by 2023, more than 55% of enterprises will replace traditional operations with cloud-centric models.
The Buzz: “Our customers must efficiently manage the rapid shift to remote work, deliver applications faster and more securely, and reduce the cost and complexity of connecting and protecting the distributed enterprise,” said Rajiv Ramaswami, COO of products and cloud services at VMware. “The Modern Network framework enables our customers to do this. It turns the old way of thinking about networks as hardware appliances, switches, and routers in enterprise networks on its head and instead, takes a top-down view that puts users and applications first. This is the promise we are delivering on with the Virtual Cloud Network.”
“IDC is seeing that the traditional hardware-defined, device-centric method of building, operating, and securing networks is being supplanted by a cloud-centric, software-based approach,” said Brad Casemore, research vice president of data center and multicloud networking at IDC. “Software-based approaches such as the VMware Virtual Cloud Network can help customers modernize both their network infrastructure and operating model, across clouds, data centers, and the extended enterprise.”
“Around major sporting events, we need to be able to scale out hundreds of apps in seconds and give customers a consistent, reliable, and secure experience,” said Ben Fairclough, lead infrastructure architect at William Hill. “VMware provides us with a modern network that allows us to automate deployment of critical micro-segmentation functionality through the NSX Distributed Firewall using APIs. Tight integration in our environment means our developers know and understand how security policies are put together to ultimately simplify the entire deployment sequence.”
“When we considered our network modernization process, one of the key factors was supporting a shift to multicloud to ensure continuous delivery,” said Thomas Squeo, CTO at Intrado Digital Media. “The network virtualization, analytics, and visualization capabilities included in VMware’s virtual cloud network portfolio made that easy. We’ve created a ‘5S’ framework focused on the stability, scalability, security, speed, and savings we need to be successful in meeting our application SLIs, SLOs, and error budget deployments.”
“Tools like the VMware software-based load balancer give us that next-generation functionality to dynamically scale up the throughput capacity to where it needs to go,” said Zack Milem, cloud solution architect at Trend Micro. “By tying our products together with VMware’s modern networking components, Trend Micro is creating a seamless experience in which our business units and our end users can access applications and infrastructure capacity at any time, wherever they are.”