There is no question that VMware is making waves in the world of software-defined infrastructure. VMware’s NSX product line is certainly the leading software-defined networking technology that is being utilized in the enterprise datacenter today.

However, as most have noticed, VMware has been developing and maintaining two different NSX platforms, NSX-V and NSX-T. It has certainly been speculated that at some point, the two would either merge or VMware would move forward with one platform, most likely NSX-T. The answer to that question has most certainly been answered with the release of NSX-T Data Center 2.4.

With NSX-T Data Center 2.4, VMware has introduced the most powerful version of NSX-T to date and have achieved the feature parity with the much older and more established NSX-V platform. This is being noted as a landmark release of NSX-T as it is finally to the point of moving forward as the primary platform for VMware’s software-defined networking platform.

In this post, we will take a look at VMware NSX-T Data Center Available New Features to briefly look at the new features found in this newest NSX-T platform and why they are important.

NSX-T Data Center Moving Forward

Why is this release a game changer for NSX-T?

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As mentioned, this release of NSX-T has brought about the feature parity with the NSX-V release that has been the long-awaited milestone for the platform. As most know as well, NSX-T is the platform that is used in VMware Cloud on AWS and represents the platform agnostic solution that will certainly allow VMware to provide their SDN solution across environments that are not running on top of VMware vSphere. Since the NSX-T variant of NSX is not dependent on VMware vSphere, this means that VMware vCenter Server is not required. With NSX-V this is a required component of the NSX-V infrastructure. With that being said, the NSX-T platform is a superior platform in terms of flexibility, interoperability, and compatibility.

NSX-T utilizes the most current technology when it comes to network encapsulation. Instead of using VXLAN, NSX-T uses the Geneve encapsulation protocol which was developed by VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, and Intel. Geneve combines the best of the current network encapsulation protocols into one standard. From this perspective, NSX-T is newer and superior to its predecessor, NSX-V.
From a UI perspective, NSX-T has used the HTML5 interface from the beginning and has touted the most modern look and feel of the software-defined platform offered by VMware and continues to do so. In fact, with NSX-T Data Center 2.4, the UI and workflows have been one of the most improved components of this release among other things.

NSX-T Data Center is certainly the software-defined networking solution of choice moving forward starting with NSX-T Data Center 2.4. The feature parity, platform agnostic, modern encapsulation technology, and up-to-date UI, are just a few of the reasons that customers looking at greenfield deployments with NSX, should now use NSX-T Data Center 2.4.

VMware NSX-T Data Center Available New Features

Now, for the important part – the new features!

What new features are contained in NSX-T Data Center 2.4?

Many features indeed!

VMware has drastically improved NSX-T in several key areas including the following:

  • Simplified Operations
  • Software automation
  • Expanded security features
  • Improved performance and scale

Simplified Operations

There is no question that VMware has worked hard on making the NSX-T solution the most intuitive and easiest software-defined networking solution VMware has released to date. NSX-T is very much application focused and VMware has built a lot of intelligence and workflows into the NSX-T solution so that you don’t have to be a hardened network engineer to be able to deploy, understand, and troubleshoot the platform. The NSX-T platform is very API-driven with hooks to be able to drive the NSX-T infrastructure with simple API calls. This means that developers and others are able to effectively interact with the platform. All the way from Day 0, Day 1, and Day 2 operations, the NSX-T platform has been simplified to allow much more effective implementation, operations, and control of the platform.

This includes a greatly simplified infrastructure footprint. Now with the NSX-T platform, the NSX-T Manager and NSX-T Controller roles have been combined! This means there are fewer VMs to be deployed in total as opposed to previous versions of NSX-T and the current NSX-V. VMware has done a really great job with their products in the past couple of years in terms of thinking how the complexity can be simplified. A case in point with this is the deprecation of the external PSC controller with the VCSA vCenter architecture. This is a very welcomed change with the NSX-T infrastructure since having both the management plane and the control plane on the same VM certainly reduces complexity.

Now, instead of having a “controller cluster”, the newly combined manager and controller roles VMs can be run in a “management” cluster of 3 VMs which provides the high-availability aspect of the infrastructure.

UI-is-powerful-streamlined-and-provides-intuitive-workflows

The NSX-T Data Center 2.4 UI is powerful, streamlined, and provides intuitive workflows

Software Automation

As mentioned earlier, VMware NSX-T is a highly programmable and software-driven networking architecture. Everything can be accomplished from an API interface. This provides a very “cloud native” feel and functional capability to the NSX-T platform. VMware has also introduced some very cool programmability to the NSX-T platform by way of introducing Ansible modules to help with the installation of the NSX-T Data Center 2.4 platform to provide tremendous automation capabilities in provisioning the NSX-T infrastructure.

A new declarative policy model is incorporated with NSX-T Data Center 2.4 that allows administrators to have the ability to define what they want the end result of the connectivity and security needs to look like, and then the networking components are configured by the application requirements and not the other way around. So instead of having to configure networking step-by-step, the application defines and drives the environment.

Expanded Security Features

New and exciting features have been added to this release of NSX-T Data Center 2.4 from a security perspective.

After all, NSX-T’s primary use case is effectively implementing a zero-trust, micro-segmented networking environment. As expected, new security features are a part of the newest version. The new security features include a Layer 7 application context-based firewall. This means that NSX-T can look at application IDs from the standpoint of even permitting or denying traffic based on the specific TLS version being passed across. This is far superior to the more legacy layer 3 and 4 capabilities since these are totally IP and port based. Using the Layer 7 capabilities, it provides a much more sophisticated approach to filtering traffic and defining the scope of what network communication is allowed. Additionally, URL and FQDN whitelisting are now possible with NSX-T Data Center 2.4 along with enhanced analytics and visualization capabilities.

Improved Performance and Scale

Performance and scale with NSX-T Data Center 2.4 have been improved as you would expect. When complexity is reduced in the infrastructure as its the case with the consolidated manager and controller configuration, scale and performance usually benefit.

Additionally, there is a new DPDK-based hardware-accelerated data plane that certainly bolsters performance. Additional scale benefits with NSX-T Data Center 2.4 come from the greatly improved IPv6 support that allows this newest NSX-T Data Center platform to not suffer from any limitations from the existing IPv4 shortage by being able to fully utilize IPv6 across the board. All of these scale and performance enhancements contained in the NSX-T Data Center 2.4 platform enable it to have the cloud-scale and performance needed for today’s multi-cloud environments and hybrid networks spanning between on-premises and cloud environments.

Final Thoughts

There is no question that NSX-T Data Center 2.4 is the most advanced, capable, performant, and security-feature rich software-defined networking solution available to the enterprise datacenter. VMware has done a great job in realizing the needs of its customers and bringing about feature parity with NSX-T when compared to NSX-V. NSX-T is certainly the way forward when it comes to the NSX platform since it touts all the newest innovations and features that allow customers to run in multiple environments, across clouds, and hybrid networks.

The new declarative policy model is a game changer as well that allows NSX-T Data Center 2.4 to be application-focused and driven by the needs of the application and not the application is driven by the network capabilities and configuration. Increased programmability with rich API access as well as new Ansible modules that allow easily provisioning the environment make this the most application-driven and programmable NSX platform to date. This is certainly a milestone release in the world of software-defined networking as it takes the NSX platform to the next level. This is the release moving forward for both on-premises and cloud environments.

Other useful resources : VMware NSX-V vs NSX-T Comparison

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