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Category Archives: Careers

3 Months on the Road: What I heard from VMware NSX Customers

After three consecutive months attending 75 customer meetings throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia, I came away Around-The-Worldwith plenty of frequent flyer miles and, more importantly, tons of insight to share with you.

What I learned from customers is that VMware NSX is truly a game-changer. And as we exit the second quarter, the list of customers excited about NSX is only getting bigger. We recently announced that we have grown from more than 150 VMware NSX customers a year ago, to more than 700 customers today. These customers are setting the stage for others to follow. They are providing best practices that we are feeding back to others, and giving us valuable insight into challenges they encounter along the way.

So as I promised, I’ve pulled together highlights from these meetings and condensed them into three key themes that emerged.  For you IT pros out there reading this, let me know if any of this sounds familiar. Continue reading

VCDX-NV Interview: Nemtallah Daher Discusses VMware NSX Certification

Nemtallah Daher is Senior Network Delivery Consultant at the consulting firm AdvizeX Technology. Recently he took some time out of his day to talk with us about why, as a networking guy, he thinks learning about network virtualization is critical to further one’s career. 

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I’ve been at AdvizeX for about a year now. I do Cisco, HP, data center stuff, and all sorts of general networking things: routing, switching, data center, UCS. That kind of stuff. Before coming to AdvizeX, I was a senior network specialist at Cleveland State University for about 20 years.

I started at Cleveland State in 1988 as a systems programmer, working on IBM mainframe doing CICS, COBOL and assembler. About 2 years after I started at Cleveland State, networking was becoming prevalent, and the project I was working on was coming to an end, so they asked me if I would help start a networking group. So from a small lab here, a building here, a floor there, I built the network at Cleveland State. We applied for a grant to get some hardware, applied for an IP address, domain name, all these things. There was nothing at the time, so we did everything. We incorporated wireless about 10 years in. Over time it became a ubiquitous, campus-wide network. So that’s my brief history. Continue reading

VCDX-NV Interview: Jason Nash On The Network Virtualization Career Path

Jason_NashJason Nash is CTO of Varrow, a VMware Partner based out of the Carolinas. Previous to Varrow he was an enterprise architect for Wachovia’s investment bank. Jason has been in enterprise IT almost 20 years and originally started as a network admin working with Cisco gear. He maintains his Cisco CCNA and CCNP certifications. He is one of only a handful of double VCDX professionals, having completed his VCDX-NV last year.

When did you first start looking at network virtualization?

I started looking at network virtualization three to four years ago. I think before that, when it was just purely Nicira and some of those types of companies and projects, network virtualization was really the domain of the PayPals, the eBays, the Googles. Those types of companies. When VMware acquired Nicira, when Cisco did their Insieme spin-in, we started to see that commercial and traditional enterprise customers were going to have some very good options around network virtualization. We started to weigh our options and we really started to get serious about it over the last 18 months. Network virtualization ramps up right alongside our automation or orchestration practices and projects. So we believe that to do those properly, you need network virtualization. You need to be able to automate the network pieces and we couldn’t do that using the traditional means and the manual processes that it took. So we would’ve liked to have had these options a couple of years ago, but we feel that products in the true enterprise commercial space weren’t viable until really over the last year.

What excites you about network virtualization?

Until recently, networking in a virtual world has really been about, “How do we create a bridge and just get virtual machines and or hypervisor hosts onto a network? How do we do that as best we can?” There wasn’t any intelligence there. There wasn’t any true integration. It was just simply, “How do we get these two things to talk?” Network virtualization solves this. Then I am excited to be able to do things in a more automated fashion, to commoditize a lot of the underlying hardware across any layer of the SDDC, to give more intelligence to applications owners, to the data center architects, and to be able to give them the tools to go above and beyond what they’ve previously been able to do.

I’m a big proponent of the discussion point around the fact that we can spin up virtual machines in a matter of minutes, but it still takes weeks or a month or more to do things on the network side and security side: firewall rules, load balancer, malware protection, all that stuff. Now we can slipstream this in and cut that down to two minutes as well. So we’re getting this true integrated networking all the way through, up into the application, along with the ability to do things in a much more scalable fashion. So instead of putting firewalls in a rack in one part of the data center, we’re now able to deliver network services very, very close to the applications themselves. It reduces complexity, it reduces traffic going back and forth across the data center, and it allows us to get more elegant in how we do our designs, so we’re not having to shoehorn and do these weird type of traffic flows or configurations just to make sure that we’re doing security like we want to do. Security is the number one driver for network virtualization for us right now. It’s definitely the driver for NSX. Almost all of my customer briefings around NSX are driven for requirements for security. Continue reading

VCDX-NV Interview: Ron Flax On The Importance Of Network Virtualization

Ron Flax is the Vice President of August Schell, a reseller of VMware products and IT services company that specializes in delivering services to commercial accounts and the federal government, particularly intelligence and U.S. Department of Defense. RonFlaxRon is a VCDX-NV certified network virtualization professional and a VMware vExpert. We spoke with Ron about network virtualization and the NSX career path.

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The most exciting thing about network virtualization, I think, is the transformative nature of this technology. Networks have been built the same way for the last 20 to 25 years. Nothing has really changed. A lot of new features have been built, a lot of different technologies have come around networks, but the fundamental nature of how networks are built has not changed. But VMware NSX, because it’s a software-based product, has completely altered everything. It enables a much more agile approach to networks: the ability to automate the stand-up and tear-down of networks; the ability to produce firewalling literally at the virtual network interface. And because things are done at software speed, you can now make changes to the features and functions of networking products at software speed. You no longer have to deal with silicon speed. It’s very, very exciting. With a software-based approach, you can just do so much more in such a small amount of time.

What we’re hearing from customers, at this point, is that they’re very interested to learn more. They’re at a phase where they’re ready to get their hands dirty, and they really want to understand it better. What’s driving a lot of adoption today is security, it is our foot in the door. When you speak with customers about the security aspects, the micro-segmentation capabilities, you may not even have to get to a virtual network discussion. Once you get the security aspect deployed, customers will see it in action and then a few weeks later will say, ‘Hey, you know, can you show me how the new router works?’ or ‘Can you show me how other features of NSX work?’ That’s when you can start to broaden your approach. So these compelling security stories like micro-segmentation or distributed firewalling get you in and get the deployment started, but ultimately it’s the flexibility of being able to deliver networks at speed, in an agile way, through software, through automation, that’s the home run. Continue reading

VCDX-NV Interview: Chris Miller Talks VMware NSX Certification

Chris Miller is the principal architect for AdvizeX in Columbus OH. He runs the NSX program from a technical and marketing perspective, including Chris Miller-AdvizeXenterprise pre-sales support and go-to-market strategies.

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I started my career as a traditional Cisco networking guy. I spent 10 to 15 years as a network architect. But I’d been tracking what was going on in the community, with Open Flow and some of the other technologies. When I saw what VMware was doing, it got me pretty excited. I thought, ’It’s pretty revolutionary what’s going on here.’ I immediately jumped on the opportunity to take part in NSX.

In terms of enterprise customers, we weren’t initially seeing a lot of adoption in the market. Then VMware announced the Nicira acquisition, and Cisco announced what they were going to do with ACI, and heads started turning. I realized, you know, here are two of our largest partners putting their investment dollars behind this technology. And then, when I saw what NSX could do, and the benefits it could bring, it was very clear to me that this was the next wave. Continue reading

VCDX-NV Interview: Greg Stemberger

Greg Stemberger is an IT professional who started working in networking in 2000. Working in network operations at Sprint, he managed some of the Greg-Stemberger-Force3largest enterprise networks in the world as the Managed Services Operations Engineer focused primarily on routing and switching. He managed more than 20,000 Cisco devices in his initial role at Sprint. Greg has three CCIEs: in route/switch, security, and service provider. He’s also a member of the first group of VCDX-NV certified professionals.

What excites you about network virtualization?

Virtualization is actually nothing new to me, to be honest, because I’ve been dealing with multi-tenancy, which really in my mind, started on the WAN side where VPNs were really one of the first early versions of introducing multi-tenancy and segmentation of the network, and leveraging virtualization-type technology on hardware. It’s just fascinating to see how much that’s evolved and taken off in the compute world. Now, we’re coming back together full circle with SDN. The network is now playing catch-up with how much agility and flexibility virtualization has provided to the compute world. I believe I have been doing virtual networking for a number of years now, but obviously it’s morphed into something much more powerful today than it was five, six year ago when I was just doing virtual routing and things along those lines.

As you went through network virtualization training, did anything surprised you?

I’m amazed at how powerful the network functions have become down to compute level. I didn’t fully grasp how much flexibility is possible down to the network level in virtualization. I just assumed that you needed a piece of hardware to do that, a dedicate piece of hardware, but software has come so far that now we could potentially deliver a lot of the same capabilities at very scalable rates down on an x86 fixed platform.

How do you think getting certified in network virtualization will help traditional networking professionals in their career?

I think it’s a natural evolution that more of network intelligence is going to continue to extend into the software realm, because of the power of computing today, and the power that software programming brings. I don’t think anybody can challenge the fact that network virtualization brings so much agility and power to networking that we never had before. Obviously, looking at NSX and understanding what’s possible in terms of software-defined networking is just a great salvation towards understanding the networks of the future. Continue reading

VCDX-NV Interview: Chris Wahl

Chris Wahl is a Senior Solutions Architect at Ahead, located in Chicago, Ill.  He has more than 14 years of experience as an IT Pro. Chris originally went to school for networking, and has a bachelor’s degree in networking and communications chris-wahl-redmanagement. More recently he’s been doing sys admin work in sys admin engineering, architecture, and data center focused projects. His certifications include VMware VCDX #104, Cisco CCNA data center and CCNP router and switch certifications for which he also teaches classes, and several other VMware, Cisco, Microsoft, and HP certifications. He is also one of the first VCDX-NV certified professionals

What excites you about network virtualization?

I spent quite a few of years managing every type of virtualized infrastructure you can imagine, ranging from very small and medium sized businesses, to a 16,000 person enterprise with over 1,000 virtual machines. In every instance, the roadblock was always the network to the point where in the large deployment that I managed, we would just plan that any network change would take three weeks even if it was just a VLAN on a port. We could pretty much guarantee that it would be about two weeks to make the change, and another week to fix it because it wouldn’t be made correctly. So, the idea of making the physical infrastructure more like plumbing which we can just make work, and then using network virtualization overlay technology is extremely attractive, because it eliminates days and weeks of real world issues that I have run into as a data center focused engineer and completely hated.

How can networking professionals benefit from network virtualization? Why should they not be concerned this will devalue their skills or make them less important?

In my mind, having gone through this as a sys admin originally focused on Novell and microcomputers and mainframes, and then transitioning to Windows and Active Directory, it’s pretty much the same story all over again. You have a base set of skills and experiences that feed into problem solving, the ability to abstract requirements or constraints out of a design. Then there’s that fundamental understanding of how things should be put together, regardless of the operating system or the network in this case. So as a networking professional, it’s more of the same. You’ve been exposed to a number of network architectures from different vendors and the protocols that go with them. None of that is really changing. It’s just that now there are new ways to make that particular piece of the data center better and faster. I actually view this as an opportunity to increase value, make yourself much more integrated in the workflow for the application or the stack, and really offer some ways to differentiate your business or if you’re a consultant your practice from others that don’t ride on this wagon. Continue reading

Network Virtualization at VMware Partner Exchange 2015

VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) is your one-stop shop when it comes to learning about network virtualization and the technology extends VMware’s vision of the software-defined data center. At this year’s event, we are offering both an executive track and a technical track to help partners build their businesses and advance their knowledge, as you take customers on the path to Virtualizing the Network.

PEX Image

If you are a partner that is new to network virtualization, we have a program/learning path where you can send two people to PEX and to achieve their network virtualization competency by attending the 3-Day NSX Install, Configure and Manage Boot Camp prior to the start of the conference. Participants can then attend the free instructor-led VSP-NV and VTSP-NV boot camps during the conference. Continue reading

Free Seminar – Advancing Security with the Software-Defined Data Center

We’re excited to take to the road for another edition of our VMware Software-Defined Data Center Seminar Series. Only this time, we’ll be joined by some great company.

VMware & Palo Alto Networks invite you along for a complementary, half-day educational event for IT professionals interested in learning about how Palo Alto Networks and VMware are transforming data center security.

Thousands of IT professionals attended our first SDDC seminar series earlier this year in more than 20 cities around the globe. Visit #VirtualizeYourNetwork.com to browse the presentations, videos, and other content we gathered.

This free seminar will highlight:

  • The Software-Defined Data Center approach
  • Lessons learned from real production customers
  • Using VMware NSX to deliver never before possible data center security and micro-segmentation

Who should attend?

People who will benefit from attending this session include:

  • IT, Infrastructure and Data Center Managers
  • Network professionals, including CCIEs
  • Security & Compliance professionals
  • IT Architects
  • Networking Managers and Administrators
  • Security Managers and Administrators

Agenda

  • 8:30 a.m. Registration & Breakfast
  • 9:00 a.m. VMware: Better Security with Micro-segmentation
  • 10:00 a.m. Palo Alto Networks: Next Generation Security Services for the SDDC
  • 11:00 a.m. NSX & Palo Alto Networks Integrated Solution Demo
  • 11:45 a.m. Seminar Wrap-up
  • 12:00 p.m. Hands-on Workshop
  • 1:30 p.m. Workshop Wrap-up

Check out the schedule and register. Space is limited.

Learn more at http://info.vmware.com/content/26338_nsx_series

Roger

New VMworld 2014 Hands-on Labs with VMware NSX Goodness

In 2013 we introduced VMware NSX Hands-on-Labs for the first time. The NSX 1303 Hands-on-lab has been by far one of the most popular labs, giving you an in-depth view of VMware NSX. Hands-on-labs are one of the best ways to get a good tour of the product. You can take all of these labs online at http://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/ . It requires a registration, but is open to everyone. .

This year at VMworld we introduced several new NSX labs to give you a deeper look at NSX, and to showcase the depth of integration NSX provides with 3rd party partners and other VMware products. All of the new 2014 Hands-on-labs have been published and are available to you. Here is a quick tour of the labs and what you can expect to see.

 

HOL-SDC-1403

If you are just getting started with NSX and want to know what Network Virtualization is all about, we recommend you start here.

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This lab will walk you through five modules of exercises:

  • NSX Components – Host Preparation, Controller deployment
  • NSX Logical Switching – building VXLAN logical switches
  • NSX Logical Routing  – Distributed Routing, Dynamic Routing with OSPF
  • NSX Distributed Firewall – Micro-segmentation with NSX
  • NSX Edge Services – Load-balancing, SSL VPN

 

HOL-SDC-1425

Once you have completed the introductory lab, we recommend taking the advanced lab which is designed to showcase some of the new features in NSX 6.1. You can read and excellent summary of these new capabilities in Chris Wahl’s blog, “NSX 6.1 Announced, Contains Plethora of Enhancements.”

This lab covers the following areas:

  • Configuring DHCP Relay so that you can use NSX with external IPAM Services
  • Scaling out Layer 3 routing with Equal Cost Multi-Pathing (ECMP) and Dynamic Routing Protocols. Yes we actually build out the topology below in the lab! That’s the power of network virtualization.

HOL-SDC-1425-2nd Image

  • Building out L2VPN services for multi-site and hybrid cloud connectivity services
  • Integration with 3rd parties using Service Composer and Trend Micro AV & IPS with NSX. You will see how to register services and how NSX is a platform to integrate with 3rd party services in this exercise.
  • Networking Monitoring with NSX & Riverbed Cascade – we will even show you how you can monitor with NetFlow in this exercise 

HOL-SDC-1424

The two labs above will surely give you a good view of NSX as a network virtualization platform. Next, let’s see how NSX integrates with other VMware products to build out a complete Software-Defined Data Center. This lab shows the integration capabilities offered by NSX with VMware management solutions.

First up, we will learn about Self-service IT, and how you can deliver applications quickly to your end-users with the integration of vCloud Automation Center and NSX. You will build out a multi-machine blueprint with networking and security, and then deploy it.

Next, if you want to learn about automation and the NSX API, we will walk you through exercises in using vCenter Orchestrator and using the NSX REST API to create a security group. This will give you the fundamentals of NSX automation which you can easily extend upon as you deploy NSX in your own environment.

The third exercise is about operations. We will show you the new NSX Management Pack in vCenter Operations. We will walk you through the dashboards and you will learn how you can actually not just monitor but also troubleshoot you network.

At this point you are surely on your way to become a NSX Ninja

HOL-SDC-1420

If you want to use OpenStack with NSX and vSphere – we’ve got you covered too! We will walk you through OpenStack on vSphere itself and then show you how to connect it to deploy networks with NSX from OpenStack.

And Of Course There Are More

Those are the main labs I would recommend, but there are others too. There’s a lab where you can learn more about the IT Outcome of Fast Infrastructure Delivery and Application Automation (HOL-SDC-1413) which has some NSX goodness with vCloud Automation Center, or learn about the IT Outcome of Policy-based Compliance and Network Security (HOL-SDC-1414).

If you want to learn about NSX and the partner integration framework you can take HOL-PRT-1462 which will walk you through the NSX and Palo Alto Networks next-gen firewall integration labs and HOL-PRT-1464 which is focused on how you can use NSX Service Composer and Symantec Data Center Security: Server.

In all we have well over 24 hours of labs, and you can sign-up even if you did not go to VMworld. It is always available 24/7, so if you have a few spare hours and want to learn about NSX you can take the lab.

And I will let you in on a little secret. We actually run the labs on NSX. So as you learn, you are also a user of NSX!!!

You can always sign-up for a NSX class offered by VMware Education.

Happy learning!

Nikhil