Industries Technology

The Future of Networking is Software, and the Network of the Future is the Virtual Cloud Network

Written by: Hadi Nejatian, VMware Partner Solutions Architect 


Back in May, VMware announced its new vision for the future of networking, unveiling our Virtual Cloud Network and offering a new VMware NSX networking and security portfolio that enables our customers to connect and secure applications edge to edge.

This offering is aligned with VMware’s objective of providing a ubiquitous and consistent digital fabric extended from the data centers to the core networks of our services provider partners – and then all the way to the edge. But why is this so important? Because now we are living in a hyper-connected world that requires everything to be connected, from our desktops and phones to the IoT sensors on the edge of the network. In this new digital era, more happens on the edge of the network and this creates opportunity for our customers to leverage this connectivity to provide better services and experiences to their end-users.

The IT landscape is transforming significantly and this means it’s time to rethink the approach to IT, and in particular, cloud. If in the past infrastructure was driving the applications, today applications are driving IT infrastructure.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, there have been three fundamental architecture shifts on where we run our applications. It started by consolidating all the compute infrastructure in a well-contained and maintained area called data center. Then cloud technologies emerged where anyone with a credit card could purchase the infrastructure they needed for running their applications – no physical data center required. Now with emerging technologies such as 5G, IoT and mobile edge computing, applications are moving out of data centers to the edge, because now the edge is where the business is happening and applications are running on-demand. This is what VMware sees as the shift from “Data Centers” to “Centers of Data”.


This phenomenon has created a spectrum where companies run their applications from data centers all the way out to the edge. There are many companies that are somewhere within this spectrum or even cover across the whole spectrum. But it is important to know that with each of these architecture shifts, from data center, to cloud, to edge, we are creating more opportunities for end-users to have access to the business applications and data they need on more devices and through more connections.

As an IT expert, you might already know that each of these shifts introduces many risks and complexities. In fact, there are many companies that are still struggling to figure out how to develop and create proper controls around networking and security for their cloud applications and data. On top of that, just add the shift that is currently happening on the architecture side of applications – the shift from monolithic applications to distributed applications and micro-services. This shift is made even more complex by the movement of applications and data to the edge.

Keeping all this in mind, do you think that the models we’ve been using to design and operate our networks are still able to take us forward to the edge? Are these current models capable of providing a consistent and pervasive manageability, automation, visibility, security and connectivity that spans across the data center all the way out to the edge? The answer is no.

The traditional network has not been able to progress at the same rate as the rapid change of business demands – they’re asking for cloud and edge-based services such as ROBO and IoT. A traditional network is all about connecting boxes and devices, but it’s clear that the network of the future is about connecting applications and users. This next generation of networking must allow customers to move their business applications into cloud or to connect to the cloud (or in some cases, do both), regardless of what kind of cloud it would be (public, private or hybrid).

What’s necessary for the next generation networking? First, to overcome the limitations of the legacy networking, the network of the future must be virtual and software-driven. This will allow the new platform to be programmable and flexible to support the needs of the digital enterprise. A software-defined network is the foundational platform for any-to-any connected architecture extended across data centers, the cloud, branches, and the endpoints. It also enables connectivity and interoperability between virtual machines and containers, IoT edge devices, domains, geographies, and organizational boundaries. Being software-driven allows the network of future to address the challenges posed by adopting a multi-cloud strategy – which requires consistent networking, security, and management capabilities to provide visibility, automation, and control from the data center to the cloud and the enterprise edge.

The other important feature of next generation networking is being intrinsically secure and context-aware – in the other words, having visibility at the application layer. This feature helps this new networking fabric gain full context of the application and then enforce granular security and control at the application level. Additionally important is to have the network in always-learning mode so it can adapt to business requirements in real time. But this on-demand adaptability would require it to support another feature: being highly elastic and scalable at the infinite level. Finally, the network of future needs to be managed, delivered and consumed as a service on cloud and to be provisioned as code.

By going through all these features and requirements, it’s clear that they look like fundamentals of the cloud model. At VMware, we believe the fundamentals of the cloud should be used to define the future network and security models of a digital enterprise. This enables the digital enterprise to have an elastic infrastructure that grows, contracts, and expands with the demands of business and at the same time is highly available, secure and performing.

VMware is helping customers build tomorrow’s Virtual Cloud Network today

The VMware Virtual Cloud Network addresses essential customer requirements around networking on the multi-cloud, multi-application framework, and hyper-distributed applications IT environment. This new digital fabric, which is based on next-generation networking technology, enables our customers to build new applications for today as well as the future based on VMware solutions.

The Virtual Cloud Network is built upon VMware’s foundational vision of “Any App, Any Cloud, Any Device”. It is a framework made up of a robust portfolio of network elements. To help deliver this vision, VMware recently launched the VMware NSX networking and security portfolio which offers consistent, pervasive connectivity and security for applications and data, across four types of clouds: The Private Cloud, the Public Cloud, the Telco Cloud and the IoT Cloud. The Virtual Cloud Network allows for a common and consistent network fabric that enables applications to leverage the best of all four cloud worlds.

Virtual Cloud Network embodies the network of the future by offering an essential, ubiquitous digital infrastructure built upon an end-to-end software-based network architecture that delivers services to applications and data, wherever they are located.

Being software driven, the solution enables an abstraction above the physical layer, therefore unchaining us from the challenges and constraints of the physical layer. VMware is poised to lead in delivering the network of the future because our heritage and expertise has been around developing and running entire systems in software.


VMware NSX Networking and Security Portfolio Components

The VMware NSX Networking and Security portfolio of products is made up of both new and enhanced offerings. New capabilities allow customers to have a consistent multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud networking and security across various cloud platforms from private cloud (i.e. VMware Cloud Provider Partners such as IBM Cloud) to public cloud (i.e. AWS, Azure, GCP), expanding across data centers, cloud, telco and branch locations with supported capabilities for traditional and modern application frameworks.

Our May announcement included five offerings under the new VMware NSX family brand. All these products jointly together create the VMware foundation for Virtual Cloud Network:

  • VMware NSX Data Center
  • VMware NSX SD-WAN by VeloCloud
  • VMware NSX Cloud
  • VMware AppDefense
  • VMware NSX Hybrid Connect

 For more information about the VMware Virtual Cloud Network and VMware NSX Network and Security Portfolio, please visit: Virtual Cloud Network




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