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Category Archives: Network Virtualization

VMware NSX and vRealize Automation Overview – Part 1

VMware NSX network virtualization and vRealize Automation deliver a feature rich, dynamic integration that provides the capability to deploy applications along with network and security services at provisioning time while maintaining compliance with the required security and connectivity policies. This native integration highlights the value of NSX when combined with automation and self-service and shows how VMware brings together compute, storage, network and security virtualization to provide a comprehensive software-based solution. Continue reading

Security for the New Battlefield

What will be our security challenge in the coming decade? Running trusted services even on untrusted infrastructure. That means protecting the confidentiality and integrity of data as it moves through the network. One possible solution – distributed network encryption – a new approach made possible by network virtualization and the software-defined data center that addresses some of the current challenges of widespread encryption usage inside the data center. Continue reading

The Next Horizon for Cloud Networking & Security

VMware NSX has been around for more than two years now, and in that time software-defined networking and network virtualization have become VMware Networking Expert Guido Appenzellerinextricably integrated into modern data center architecture. It seems like an inconceivable amount of progress has been made. But the reality is that we’re only at the beginning of this journey.

The transformation of networking from a hardware industry into a software industry is having a profound impact on services, security, and IT organizations around the world, according to VMware’s Chief Technology Strategy Officer for Networking, Guido Appenzeller.

“I’ve never seen growth like what we’ve found with NSX,” he says. “Networking is going through a huge transition.” Continue reading

Distributed Firewall ALG

In the last post, VMware NSX™ Distributed Firewall installation and operation was verified. In this entry, the FTP (file transfer protocol) ALG (Application Level Gateway) is tested for associating data connections with originating control connections – something a stateless ACL (access control list) can’t do.

An added benefit over stateless ACLs – most compliance standards more easily recognize a stateful inspection-based firewall for access control requirements. Continue reading

Getting Started with VMware NSX Distributed Firewall – Part 2

In Part 1, I covered traditional segmentation options. Here, I introduce VMware NSX Distributed Firewall for micro-segmentation, showing step-by-step how it can be deployed in an existing vSphere environment.

Now, I have always wanted a distributed firewall. Never understood why I had to allow any more access to my servers than was absolutely necessary. Why have we accepted just network segmentation for so long? I want to narrow down allowed ports and protocols as close to the source/destination as I can.

Which brings me to my new favorite tool – VMware NSX Distributed Firewall. Continue reading

Getting Started with VMware NSX Distributed Firewall – Part 1

Who saw it coming that segmentation would be a popular term in 2015?!? Gartner analyst StartGreg Young was almost apologetic when he kicked off the Network Segmentation Best Practices session at the last Gartner Security Summit.

As a professional with a long history in the enterprise firewall space, I know I found it odd at first. Segmentation is such a basic concept, dovetailing with how we secure networks – historically on network boundaries. Network segmentation is the basis for how we write traditional firewall rules – somehow get the traffic TO the firewall, and policy can be executed. How much more can we say about network segmentation? Continue reading

Organizations Can Be Twice As Secure at Half the Cost

Last week at VMworld, Pat Gelsinger made a statement that got folks buzzing. During his Cyber-Security-King_Blogkeynote, he said that integrating security into the virtualization layer would result in organizations being twice as secure at half the cost. As a long-time security guy, statements like that can seem a little bold, but VMware has data, and some proven capability here in customer environments.

We contend that the virtualization layer is increasingly ubiquitous. It touches compute, network, and storage – connects apps to infrastructure – and spans data center to device. More importantly, virtualization enables alignment between the things we care about (people, apps, data) and the controls that can protect them (not just the underlying infrastructure).

Let me speak to the statement from the data center network side with some real data. VMware has a number of VMware NSX customers in production that have deployed micro-segmentation in their data centers.  Here’s what we found:

  1. 75% of data center network traffic is East-West, moving VM to VM regardless of how convoluted the path may be.
  2. Nearly all security controls look exclusively at North-South traffic, which is the traffic moving into and out of the data center; 90% of East-West traffic never sees a security control.
  3. Micro-segmentation with NSX enables full inspection of East-West traffic by logical network isolation, stateful firewalling, and with partners, even more sophisticated security controls can be implemented (next-generation firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, etc).

By my math using the above data, we’ve enabled organizations to move from security controls that only cover one third of their data center traffic to a much higher percentage – in some customer environments, they’ve deployed security controls to 100% of the traffic (full micro-segmentation, 100% of East-West traffic).  That’s actually better than twice as secure.

Now, the “half the cost” aspect of the statement we’ve proven many times over. We’ve seen enough customer business cases that demonstrate doing micro-segmentation with hardware firewalls is three times the cost of doing it with VMware NSX. Never mind the fact that it is operationally infeasible to do this. You can read about that here in our whitepaper.

So, in a sense, Pat was being conservative in my view. It’s actually more like three times as secure at one-third the cost.  Either way, it’s a huge improvement.

Here are just a few stories of real world customers that are starting to reap the benefits of using virtualization and micro-segmentation to improve the effectiveness and economics of security.

Chris King

Cross vCenter Networking & Security with VMware NSX

NSX 6.2 was released on August 20, 2015. One of the key features in NSX 6.2 is Cross vCenter Networking and Security. This new capability scales NSX vSphere across vCenter boundaries. Now, one can span logical networking and security constructs across vCenter boundaries irrespective of whether the vCenters are in adjacent racks or across datacenters (up to 150ms apart). This enables us to solve a variety of use cases including:

  • Capacity pooling across vCenters
  • Simplifying data center migrations
  • Cross vCenter and long distance vMotion
  • Disaster recovery

With Cross vCenter Networking & Security one can extend logical switches (VXLAN networks) across vCenter boundaries enabling a layer 2 segment to span across VCs even when the underlying network is a pure IP / L3 network. However, the big innovation here is that with NSX we can also extend distributed routing and distributed firewalling seamlessly across VCs to provide a comprehensive solution as seen in the figure below. Continue reading

VMware NSX 6.2: Enterprise Automation, Security and Application Continuity

VMworld 2015 in San Francisco marks the two-year anniversary of the launch of VMware VMware NSX LogoNSX. Since we originally launched, we have taken the promise of NSX and turned it into a platform that customers around the world are using to transform the operations of their data center networks and security infrastructure – in fact, more than 700 customers have chosen NSX. We also have more than 100 production deployments, and more than 65 customers have invested more than $1M of their IT budgets in NSX. We’ve trained more than 3,500 people on NSX, and we have more than 20 interoperable partner solutions generally available and shipping today.

Perhaps what’s most exciting is that at this year’s show, we will have more than two dozen NSX customers represented in various forums throughout the event. Organizations such as Baystate Health, City of Avondale, ClearDATA, Columbia Sportswear, DirecTV, FireHost, George Washington University, Heartland Payment Systems, IBM, IlliniCloud, NovaMedia, Rent-A-Center, Telstra, Tribune Media, United Health Group, University of New Mexico…the list goes on. Continue reading

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