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VMware Virtualizing the Network on Way to the Software Defined Data Center

There are multiple layers in need of virtualization if we are to achieve an agile, data center stack

SDN may be getting more attention than SDDC (Software Defined Data Center), but the reality is that SDN is part of a much larger initiative; one that encompasses the whole of the data center.

In the quest to provide self-service IT, formerly known as IT as a Service and now appearing under the moniker of "SDDC", it becomes apparent that there are multiple layers in need of virtualization if we are to achieve an agile, data center stack.

service-velocity-infographic2There's the application infrastructure, already mostly virtualized and beginning to realize the return on investment promised to adopters from its earliest days.

Storage, too, has largely been virtualized - much of it long before cloud or SDN or virtualization was an entry in the data center vernacular.

sddc-stackWhat's missing is the network. Unsurprising, really, when you consider how disruptive changing the network can be to every aspect of the business and operations. It's not something that's undertaken lightly, and yet it is a task that must ultimately be completed to reach the pinnacle of SDDC.

The virtualization of the network offers one way to complete the SDDC "stack" and enable a comprehensive, software-defined approach to managing the entire data center. This is the focus of myriad technologies, architectures, and solutions today. SDN, NFV and a host of derivatives are attempting to plug the hole in the virtualized data center.

VMware, too, has an answer to fill the virtual gap. It has introduced VMware NSX; a network virtualization platform designed to provision complex, multi-tier virtual networks in seconds, independent of the underlying topology or network components.

VMware NSX leverages technology from its Nicira acquisition and includes a distributed firewall, enabling virtualization of critical security services a snap.

As part of the platform, VMware NSX enables a rich ecosystem of network services through its API. Given F5 and VMware's long history of providing integrated, cloud focused solutions, it should be no surprise to learn that F5 is integrating with VMware NSX. F5 BIG-IQ Cloud is enabled with a VMware NSX connection that enables service-based provisioning of critical application services provided by F5 BIG-IP such as programmability, performance, availability and security. Productivity improvements are realized through the integrated solution by leveraging F5 iApps, which create consistent, repeatable deployment templates [pdf] that can be invoked from within NSX Manager.

Deploying the NSX platform and F5 solutions together combines the benefits of network virtualization and application services (such as optimization and security) to give customers a valuable toolset to scale their infrastructures and pursue cloud initiatives.


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More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.