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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Why Should CIOs Invest in Network Virtualization with NSX?

kai_holthaus (150x150)By Kai Holthaus

Data-center virtualization is nearly all-encompassing by now. Most corporations have achieved a compute virtualization rate of over 80%. Only very few workloads remain on physical hardware instead of being handled by a virtual machine, and usually that’s because of very specialized requirements of the applications themselves. Storage is following closely behind.

Network VirtualizationThe main holdout to the software-defined data center (SDDC) is the network infrastructure. Most networks are still being managed on the physical hardware itself, instead of virtualizing the network layer as well, and moving the management of the network into software. With NSX, VMware has the premier network virtualization software, and NSX can help you reap the benefits of a virtualized network.

But why would a CIO invest in the network virtualization?  This blog post will explore the main use and business cases.

Use Case 1: Security

The importance of good security has only grown in recent years. Practically every week we hear of data breaches and hackers gaining access to sensitive data in some way, shape or form. The average cost of such a data breach in the US is over $6.5M [1].

Transformed Security with NSXData Center SecuritySecurity is complicated and costly. In a hardware-managed network environment, security must be designed in from the ground up, and implementing changes to the security setup become relatively big projects relatively quickly.

With NSX, you can implement micro-segmentation of the network. Network administrators can easily define and implement strong firewalls on each deployed virtual machine and on the hypervisors running those virtual machines. Changes in the requirements for the security can be implemented quickly, because it only requires the reconfiguration of the NSX setup, instead of having to reconfigure the physical hardware. Since deploying those additional firewalls is handled in software, the task to configure stronger firewall rules becomes easier, and network administrators gain the ability to control the network traffic flowing between different VMs in a more granular fashion.

For an easy to understand primer on micro-segmentation, check out my colleague’s blog on Understanding Software-Defined Networking for IT Leaders.

Use Case 2: Agility

The network is typically the bottleneck to rapidly deploying new virtual machines or new environments for virtual machines. This happens because the network is hardware-managed, which limits the ability of the network team to quickly change the network topology to accommodate new subnets or VLANs. It also means that provisioning a new VM cannot always be fully automated, because there is the potential for a manual reconfiguration of the network being required.

Moving management into software allows the full automation of the VM provisioning and configuration processes. Configuring new VMs now becomes a matter of minutes, if not seconds. Moving VMs between hosts can now easily been done, because NSX can automatically re-configure the network so that the VM can keep its network configuration, even when moving it somewhere else.

Having this ability to quickly set up and tear down entire networks, and reconfiguring the network on the fly is an essential requirement for continuous deployment and integration. Techniques like this allow DevOps-centric organizations to rapidly implement new functionality for their applications up to a rate of several changes to production systems within just a single minute.

Use Case 3: Availability / Disaster Recovery

Failing over to a Disaster Recovery (DR) site typically involves reconfiguring the network infrastructure to point at new servers. This is very time-consuming and error-prone. Moving management of the network into software now allows network teams to leave the physical network infrastructure alone when failing over to DR resources. The network traffic will simply be routed to a different VM when the original VM becomes unavailable. Integrating NSX into the DR plans, and into other data center management software, will therefore allow network teams to reduce RTO significantly.

These are only three use cases for why virtualizing the network using NSX is a winning business proposition. There are additional use cases, like enabling hybrid cloud environments, which further improve your return on investment for NSX.

Broad adoption of compute virtualization took about 10 years. With these use cases and benefits, it should not take 10 years to reach broad adoption of network virtualization.


Kai Holthaus is a Sr. Transformation Consultant with VMware Operations Transformation Services and is based in Oregon.

[1] 2015 Cost of a Data Breach Study, Ponemon Institute


The new culture of IT echoes the industry’s earliest days.

In many ways, it’s back to the future – but we also need some things to change.

Reg Loby Reg Lo

IT cultureTo get a sense of what’s happening in IT today, it can help to have a long term perspective. Think back to the earliest days of computing, for example, and you can see that we’ve almost come full circle – a reality that underscores the major cultural shift that the business is undergoing right now.

When enterprise computers were first commercially available, companies used to buy their hardware from someone else but write their own software, simply because there wasn’t very much packaged software out there to buy.

Then by the ’90s or so, it became the norm to purchase configurable software for the business to use. That worked well for a while, as companies in many different industries deployed similar software, e.g. ERP, CRM, etc.

Today we expect software to do a lot more. Moreover, we expect software to differentiate a business from its competitors – and that’s returning IT to their roots as software developers. After all, the ability to create digital enterprise innovation requires software development skills. And so we’ve made a full arc from a software development perspective.

The Expanding Reach of IT

Now add another historic change that we’re seeing: IT departments used to just provide services for their business, their internal customer, but the advent of the fully digital enterprise is expanding who gets touched by IT. IT departments now need to reach all the way to the customer of the business, the consumer. When we talk about omnichannel marketing, for example, we’re expecting IT to help maintain connections with consumers over web, phone, chat, social media, and more. The same goes for the Internet of Things, where it’s not so much the consumer as a remote device or sensor out in the field somewhere that IT needs to be worried about.

Both broad trends have changed the scope of IT and both are making IT much more visible. More importantly, they mean that IT is now driving revenue directly. If it’s successful, IT makes the business highly successful. But if IT fails, it will directly impede the business revenue flow.

Becoming Agile Innovators

That brings me to my last point. Here’s what hasn’t changed from the past: for the last 30 years or so, the mantra in IT cultures has been “Bigger is Better.” Software Development and Release processes got increasingly bureaucratic and terribly slow (think of those epic waits for the next ERP release). The standard mind-set was to package multiple changes into a single release that they’d roll out every six months or so, if they were lucky.

But that culture is also something that we need to be moving away from, precisely because the relationship between IT and the business it serves has changed. Businesses used to perceive IT as just a cost center that should be squeezed for more and more savings. But when IT touches the end-customer experience directly, business needs IT to be both cheaper and faster – to support and enable the kinds of innovation that will keep the business one step ahead.

We now have the technologies (cloud computing, cloud-native applications) and methodologies (agile development, DevOps) to make smaller, much more frequent, incremental releases that are simpler, less likely to be faulty, and easy to roll back if anything goes wrong.

What we’re still lacking – which I still see when I’m out in the field – is the widespread cultural change required for it to happen. Most importantly, that means adopting what I could call a DevOps mindset across the entire IT organization. At its essence, this mindset views the entire work of IT through a software lens. It makes everything, including infrastructure, code.

For IT long-timers, in many ways that’s simply returning software to the centrality it once enjoyed. But if it takes us back to the early days of computing, it also points us to what we must change if we’re to succeed in a future that’s entirely new.


Reg Lo is the Director of VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in San Diego, CA.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

End User Computing Modernisation – Observations of Success

Charles BarrattBy Charles Barratt

As I come to the end of what has been a long customer engagement I find myself reflecting on what went well, not so well and REALLY well. I engaged with a client who was struggling with desktop iStock_000056305548_Large_modernization (300x200)transformation, having been shackled to Windows XP for too long, and had little direction to move in apart from the tried and tested approach of fat client refresh and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) application delivery; hardly transformative or strategic. Compared to what they were doing in the datacenter, the desktop environment was light-years behind, yet they had the capability of a modern datacenter to deliver a transformative digital workspace.

All too often, I witness organisations treating their desktop as second-class citizens to the datacenter, when in reality the datacenter is the servant to the endpoint. Those organisations that truly transform their end user computing (EUC) environments do so with three key principles in mind:


All too often, IT starts with technology rather than thinking about what impact modernisation will have on users, their productivity and the financial model associated with end user IT. Gone are the days when we simply issued users with devices and mobile phones and never spoke to them again until they had an issue. Our end users are far more technically savvy and operate their own networks at home, they want to be engaged, they want a say on the appropriate application of technology and they want workplace flexibility; happy workers tend to stay where they are.

Users deserve to be engaged and by engaging them early on EUC transformation you create advocates who are part of the process and want to see it succeed. Don’t underestimate this vital stage. Simply put, “Stop starting with technology.”


It is no longer appropriate to operate end user computing environments in isolation to the rest of the IT organisation. Virtualisation stopped that trend from happening when we saw a movement of the desktop into the datacenter. As organisations start to consume different application and security models your EUC environment needs to be close to the action for performance and operational gains.

To fully harness this change, we see organisations starting to build out a centre of excellence containing members that span the many moving parts of an EUC environment from endpoint, applications security, networks, datacenter and operations. In doing so you can be confident that there will not be overspending on technology, there will be appropriate capacity to support your requirements and the best experience will be delivered to your end users.


I recently saw the lightbulb moment in my client’s eyes when discussing the simplification of application delivery; we were introducing AppVolumes. Rather than dazzle them with science, we had a simple demonstration and a discussion around the time tested install process of “Next, Next, Next Finish” into an AppStack and made them realize that the world has moved on.

As organisations look to re-architect critical applications they need to think about simplifying the application lifecycle management (ALM) for legacy applications, a key capability of AppVolumes. IT brings the ability to shorten the ALM process significantly, from request fulfillment through patching and updates, to drive consistency and stability whilst minimizing the cost associated with lifecycle and change processes.

As with all technologies, you need to make sure the investment reduces the problem and the financial gain supports the change. The architecture and minimal impact on existing processes places AppVolumes in a very desirable place to solve application delivery challenges.

Opportunities to transform the end user computing environment don’t come along very often but their impact on end user computing is prolific. There has never been a more exciting yet complicated time to be associated in this space.

To use the words of the late Steve Jobs, “You have to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology.”


Charles Barratt is an EUC Business Solutions Strategist for VMware’s Advisory Services team and based in the UK.