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VMware: A Networking Visionary

VMware has been on a journey to bring the same benefits of server virtualization to the network for over a decade, starting with virtual switches, accelerating to our vCloud Networking and Security suite, and culminating with our 2012 Nicira acquisition and launch of our VMware NSX™ network virtualization platform.

In the new Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Center Networking, VMware received recognition for its visionary approach. In fact, VMware was placed furthest on Completeness of Vision axis. We believe this level of recognition is remarkable considering:

  • 2014 marked the very first year that VMware was considered for the Data Center Networking Magic Quadrant
  • VMware is the only pure-play software vendor recognized in the Magic Quadrant

We believe this is clear validation - the world of data center networking has been forever changed.

Major Cloud Players Agree

VMware's initial effort to virtualize network switching has also been validated by other public cloud service providers such as Amazon and Google. Those providers are also building software-based virtualized network stacks that run on commodity x86 infrastructure and can interconnect with proprietary hardware-based solutions when needed.

So, even if you look to other cloud providers for inspiration, the vision is the same, and it's getting validated at massive scale. That said, VMware differs in a fundamental, but significant way. The overwhelming majority of enterprises are architecting for a hybrid cloud future. If you want a pure networking and security software stack to give you complete portability and centralized management and operations in a hybrid cloud, NSX is it. If you want an Amazon-like networking and security experience in your data center, NSX is the technology to get you there. Remember - Amazon's roots are in retail. If hardware-oriented networking and security solutions could deliver a better total cost of ownership, don't you think that Amazon would have used those solutions?

This is Just the Beginning

In my short time as Americas CTO, I have been blown away by NSX customer interest. Early adopters were initially looking at network virtualization for business continuity benefits such as being able to move workloads between data centers without having to reconfigure network or firewall settings, or worry about physical network dependencies. That said, agility has become the primary driver. Traditional data center networking and security remains the primary workload provisioning bottleneck. A VM with an OS and application stack be can delivered in minutes, but it can take a week or longer to provision the network stack and firewall rules. If a workload is moved to a new data center or cloud, you may have to do it all over again.

Our NSX technology allows security policies and firewall rules to be mapped to objects (VMs) instead of IP addresses. That alone can provide a massive reduction in the costs and complexity associated with traditional security management. One of our clients reduced their firewall rule set from 150,000 to less than 5,000 rules. This frees security specialists to worry about more important things like safely empowering business agility.

NSX isn't just a VMware technology - it's an extensible platform with a rapidly growing ecosystem of third party networking and security software partners that have built software that plugs right into the stack. Best of all, when operational tasks are automated, partner solutions that plugged into the platform simply go along for the ride.

Like I've said before, automation should be a feature, not a professional service. Building a true software-defined data center, where value is derived through software will let you continue to safely automate more and more, while maintaining hardware and provider independence and lowering costs. There is a massive industry of traditional IT heavyweights that will tell you that this approach is bad for you, mainly because their bottom line will always depend on substantial professional services to go along with any technology deployment. They don't only get you at the initial deployment, but also for every upgrade as well. Network virtualization is one of many key technologies that will allow you to break away from a legacy IT methodology and into a scalable and flexible automated environment. When you add that to a software-defined data center with tightly integrated management stack, automated service delivery and remediation comes "out of the box." While this isn't the end to professional services, service offerings will transition more to enabling unique business requirements rather than constantly re-inventing the technology wheel.

It's good to see Gartner - a strong voice of the IT community - include our vision in its latest Data Center Networking Magic Quadrant.

What are your thoughts?



Disclaimer - Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.



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Chris Wolf

About Chris Wolf

Chris Wolf is the CTO, Americas at VMware. Chris serves as a partner and trusted adviser to VMware's customers in the Americas, and also collaborates with the IT and business community at large on cloud, mobile, virtualization and data center modernization strategies. Chris and his peers in the Office of the CTO work closely with VMware's product teams to ensure that VMware's future innovations align with essential market needs. Prior to joining VMware, Chris was a Research Vice President for Gartner's Technical Professionals service, where he managed the data center and private cloud research agenda, and was responsible for the strategic direction and technical accuracy of the team's collective research. There he had the privilege of engaging with more than 200 end user organizations annually, advising CIOs, architects and directors on private and hybrid cloud computing, server virtualization and desktop transformation strategies. Prior to Gartner, Chris was a founding member of the Data Center Strategies team at Burton Group, was a nationally recognized independent virtualization consultant, instructor at multiple colleges, worked for several years at CommVault Systems, and started his IT and technology career in the US Marines. He also authored "Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise," the first book that was exclusively devoted to defining all aspects of x86 virtualization as we know it today.