The hybrid cloud model is becoming an attractive option for a growing number of businesses
looking to differentiate, innovate, and quickly meet expanding business requirements. In addition to offering greater agility, flexibility, and scalability, hybrid clouds also help maintain security and high performance for business critical applications and data. The software-defined data center (SDDC) enables this transition to the cloud by providing an infrastructure that is virtualized and fully automated by software.
The three pillars of the SDDC are server virtualization, storage virtualization, and network virtualization. While server and storage virtualization have certainly modernized the data center, legacy hardware-centric network architectures continue to be a bottleneck to the agility, mobility, and security that businesses expect from their hybrid cloud environment and SDDC. This is where network virtualization comes in to save the day. Using network virtualization technology, like VMware NSX, allows the SDDC network to catch up to the already virtualized servers and storage.
It is important to first understand some of the limitations of these legacy networks to fully appreciate how network virtualization not only improves the speed and agility of the data center, but also better secures critical business data and applications.
In the pursuit for an agile hybrid cloud environment, it is critical that application workloads be able to move quickly and easily from one place to another – server to server, VM to VM, and in and out of the cloud. However, traditional hardware-centric networking architectures limit workload and application mobility by binding everything to the physical network. This not only slows down the movement of data, but also generates an abundance of manual and complex tasks for the networking time – equaling time lost.
With NSX network virtualization technology, it is now possible to programmatically create, provision, and manage the entire network in software, using the underlying physical network as the backplane. Network services such as switching, routing, firewalling, load balancing, and VPN can all be done in software, eliminating the need to manage these processes in the underlying hardware. This removes the limitation discussed earlier with regard to manually intensive and time-consuming network provisioning. NSX allows you to automate provisioning of networks or applications, which greatly accelerates the process – doing in seconds what previously took days, weeks, or even months.
NSX can overcome mobility limitations of legacy network architectures by untethering applications and services from the physical network infrastructure. This makes the network and network services as portable as virtual machines (VM). When a workload is moved, all of the network and security policies move with it. This gives network operators the ability to seamlessly migrate applications from one host to another or from one data center to another, greatly improving IT agility and responsiveness – attributes crucial to deploying an effective hybrid cloud and SDDC.
Another limitation of antiquated network architecture is the ability to adequately address security threats in an increasingly cloud-centric world. For many businesses, security is their primary concern when deploying a hybrid cloud model. And given the prevalence of sophisticated data breaches, leaks, and hacks in the news, the importance placed on security is completely warranted. With traditional physical networks, the data center is secured around the perimeter – meaning that there is a strong line of defense around the entire network. However, this acts as a single point of entry in the data center and once penetrated, there is nothing stopping cybercriminals from moving within the data center to obtain sensitive data.
The need for an improved architecture that better protects data inside the data center creates a strong case for introducing network virtualization using NSX. NSX dramatically enhances network security by allowing security policies to be applied not just at the perimeter, but also down to the VM, application, and even workload. NSX also contains and blocks unauthorized east-west movement through the data center using a feature called micro-segmentation. While segmentation is possible within today’s data centers, the network is often too large to easily or efficiently create the necessary firewalls to prevent traffic moving inside the data center. NSX takes the complexity out of securing east-west traffic that is necessary to defend against cyber threats and block the movement of malicious software within the data center.
As businesses look to the cloud for speed, agility, and security, it becomes clear that the hardware-centric network architectures of yesterday are not sufficient to keep pace on the path to the software-defined data center. Business cannot move faster than the slowest or weakest link - now is the time to move to a virtualized network with VMware NSX. Implementing network virtualization transforms the SDDC, allowing for a faster, more agile, and more secure way for businesses to move to the cloud and meet critical business objectives.
To learn more about how Clearpath Solutions Group can use network virtualization and NSX to help you implement a proactive and effective security plan, contact us today to schedule a discussion.
Check out more posts in our VMware NSX series, listed below: