How VMware’s cross-cloud NSX will work

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Credit: @VMware twitter

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VMware this week announced plans to extend NSX, its software defined networking product, to public IaaS cloud computing platforms, allowing customers to manage multiple cloud environments with a single network management portal.

About 1,700 customers have already deployed NSX as an on-premises network virtualization platform. At some point in the future (VMware executives will not say when) the company will allow customers to deploy NSX across multiple different cloud providers. The idea is customers can centrally manage their on premises and public cloud resources within NSX. How exactly will this work?

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The key is that VMware will be using an agent to execute this functionality. Customers will be able to install an agent inside of a virtual machine instance running in any public cloud platform. This piece of software will include a virtual switch, which will allow it to communicate with other instances of the agent, whether those are hosted in a customers’ on premises environment, or another cloud provider. A second aspect is an external gateway that will allow the NSX software to communicate back with a centralized control plane. Doing so will create multiple benefits, according to VMware Networking and Security CTO Guido Appenzeller (see video as well):

-Consistency across clouds: Customers running NSX on prem and in the cloud will be able to create one set of security policies for both environments. Virtual firewalls, policies related to specific network traffic and compliance settings can be consistent across environments.

-Encryption: Having a common networking platform across the cloud and on prem allows data to be encrypted across the network. This is particularly important, Appenzeller noted, for applications that may have a web-hosting functionality in the public cloud but make calls back to a database that may be on-premises. Data transfer between those environments could be fully encrypted.

-Visibility and incident response: By having a cross-cloud management platform, it allows customers to get a centralized view of their network across multiple environments. If an issue or failure pops up, customers can more easily determine where the cause of the issue is and troubleshoot it.

There is a growing market of cloud management tools, making it an already crowded market. But Appenzeller says that VMware is the only one approaching this problem from a networking perspective.

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