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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

Deploying VMware NSX on Cisco Nexus 9000 & Cisco UCS Infrastructure

As VMware NSX gains broader adoption, we have heard many customer requests for guidance to help them run NSX on top of the latest Cisco infrastructure, namely Cisco UCS and Nexus 9000 series switches.

With customers choosing the benefits of VMware NSX along with the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), the underlying hardware (Ethernet fabric, x86 compute, etc) provides reliable, resilient capacity, but the configuration, state and advanced features move to faster, more flexible software. The requests were for deploying NSX with Cisco infrastructure running in a standard IP-based fabric with the Nexus 9000’s in standalone mode (NX-OS Mode), as opposed to the proprietary ACI Mode. As with any IP fabric, VMware NSX works great with Nexus 9000 as the underlay. The combination of VMware NSX and Nexus 9000 in standalone mode enables the benefits customers have chosen to embrace with the SDDC.

We had previously put out a design guide on deploying VMware NSX with Cisco UCS and Nexus 7000 to help deploy NSX in current environments. Today we are putting out a new reference design for deploying VMware NSX with Cisco UCS and Nexus 9000 infrastructure, providing an easy path to the SDDC while incorporating the latest Cisco hardware. 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

VMware NSX Ninjas – VMware TAM Services

VMware Technical Account Managers combine deep expertise with insights from successful implementations to provide unparalleled value to Goal-SettingVMware customers’ business. Curtis Miller is a Technical Account Manager for VMware and in this post, which originally appeared on The VMware TAM Blog, he outlines how to help ensure success with VMware NSX TAM Services.

For networking, VMware NSX is a game-changer in the same way VMware vSphere was for data center servers. NSX virtualizes and consolidates legacy networking functionality back into a hypervisor. As a result, adding or changing network capabilities no longer requires the costly replacement of networking gear. It’s all software based—so upgrades are now just a right-click away.

The resulting cost savings are dramatic because network hardware is replaced far less often and used more efficiently. Deployment times and scalability improve substantially because networks can be created in minutes instead of weeks; and if demand falls, those resources can just as easily be reclaimed. Enhanced security via NSX’s micro-segmentation capabilities is another important benefit as well.

Read Curtis’ full blog here: http://blogs.vmware.com/tam/2015/03/ensuring-success-vmware-nsx-tam-services.html

Roger

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

Deploying VMware NSX with Horizon

As part of the recent launch of Horizon 6, Tony Paikeday, senior product line manager, End-User Computing, VMware, takes a look at the value proposition of deploying the VMware NSX network virtualization platform together with Horzon.

VMware NSX

Deploying VMware NSX with Horizon

VMware NSX, deployed with Horizon, offers a better alternative to securing east-west traffic between VMs, turning data center security from a perimeter-centric view to one that gives each individual desktop VM its own virtual network container – creating if you will, a network of “one.” This approach, also known as micro-segmentation, has been an ideal for network teams, but traditionally unachievable due to the cost, and the operational complexity involved. With the number of user VM’s introduced by desktop virtualization, and the sprawl of firewall rules needing to be manually added, deleted or modified every time a new VM is introduced, this has been untenable in the past. With VMware NSX, we have a completely new model for networking and security, delivering virtualization of the network, much as we did for server virtualization – reproducing it in software, with a logical library of networking elements and services including switches, routers, firewalls, load-balancers and more that can be deployed over any existing network.

Read Tony’s full blog post here at http://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2015/03/securing-virtual-desktops-east-west-threats-data-center.html

Roger

Introducing New VCE VxBlock Systems with Integrated VMware NSX

Last month, we outlined VMware’s vision for helping customers achieve one cloud for any application and any device. We believe the prevailing model for cloud adoption will be the hybrid cloud, and the best architecture for achieving the hybrid cloud is through a software-defined data center architecture. The fastest path to building reliable infrastructure for the hybrid cloud is through the use of converged infrastructure systems, and no company has been more successful at delivering on the promise of converged infrastructure than our partner VCE.

Now, the ability to procure and deploy the VMware NSX network virtualization platform with VCE converged infrastructure is about to get whole lot easier.

Today, VCE launched VCE VxBlock Systems, a new family of converged infrastructure systems that will factory-integrate VMware NSX for software-defined data center deployments. The new VxBlock Systems will include VCE pre-integration, pre-testing and pre-validation of VMware NSX, with seamless component-level updates, ongoing lifecycle assurance, and unified single-call support from VCE.

As I wrote previously, VMware NSX already runs great on existing Vblock Systems. Customers today are deploying VMware NSX with their existing Vblocks, and customers will be able to extend VMware NSX environments across their entire VCE converged infrastructure environment as they move to the new VxBlock Systems.

This solution will be a powerful building block for the software-defined data center, delivering unparalleled IT agility through automation, and unparalleled security through micro-segmentation.

Agility through IT Automation

  • Reduce time to provision multi-tier networking and security services from weeks to minutes.
  • Achieve faster development, testing and deployment of new applications by aligning network and security provisioning with compute and storage provisioning.
  • Streamline IT operations through programmatic creation, provisioning, snapshotting, deleting and restoration of complex software-based networks.
  • Build advanced workflows through cloud management platforms to automate provisioning of networking and security, including switching, routing, firewalling, and load balancing without manually reconfiguring physical network devices.

Unparalleled Security

  • Use micro-segmentation and isolation capabilities of VMware NSX to build security directly into the data center infrastructure.
  • Insert advanced partner services from leading security vendors to improve threat protection, reduce risk and help address their compliance requirements.
  • Achieve better security inside the data center through fine-grained policies that enable firewall controls and advanced security down to the level of the virtual NIC.
  • Create dynamic security policies that are automatically applied when a virtual machine spins up, are moved when a virtual machine is migrated and are removed when a virtual machine is de-provisioned

VMware NSX is the ideal platform for virtualizing the network running on top of VCE converged infrastructure.

Hatem

VMware NSX Webcast – Creating Agile Networks

You may have seen Joey Logano speed to his first Daytona 500 win this week. Keeping your network in racing shape takes a similar level of NSX: Wanna Go Fastpatience, stamina, and quick reflexes. Using VMware NSX network virtualization means that you can unlock the full potential of a Software-Defined Data Center, to create and run entire networks on top of existing network hardware, resulting in faster deployment of workloads, as well as greater agility in the face of increasingly dynamic data centers. Watch this overview to learn how VMware NSX reduces the time to provision multi-tier networking and security services from weeks to seconds to win your race. This one-hour overview of VMware NSX outlines how you can bring virtualization to your existing network, transforming both its operations and economics. You’ll learn how several of the largest service providers, global financial, and enterprise data centers in the world are using NSX to reduce costs and provisioning times to improve agility and establish a new model of network security.

Click here to watch this webcast and find out:

  • What the NSX architecture looks like
  • How switching, routing, firewalling, load-balancing and other services are managed with NSX
  • How overlay networks and logical networks all come together with your physical infrastructure

Roger