VMware NSX Multi-Cloud
This article provides an overview of how VMware NSX (formerly NSX-T) and software-defined networking can be leveraged to create a multi-cloud networking and security framework. We will review the basics of NSX, software-defined networking, and the GENEVE overlay protocol, as well as how NSX can be used to provide a consistent networking and security framework across multiple cloud environments. Finally, the article discusses how a cloud architect can leverage NSX and software-defined networking to provide a multi-cloud architecture for an organization looking to expand from a data center into a public cloud provider, and how NSX can be used to automate network and security configuration.
Using NSX in a multi-cloud environment provides a single platform for networking and security, which simplifies management and reduces complexity. NSX abstracts the underlying networking and security infrastructure, which means that administrators can manage and enforce policies across multiple cloud environments without having to worry about the underlying physical infrastructure.This abstraction layer makes it possible to define and enforce network and security policies across all cloud environments, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. This is because NSX provides a consistent framework for networking and security, which is independent of the underlying infrastructure.By providing a single platform for networking and security, NSX simplifies the management of multi-cloud environments, reduces complexity, and ensures consistency across all cloud environments. This helps to reduce the risk of configuration errors and security breaches, and enables organizations to take advantage of the benefits of multi-cloud computing while maintaining a consistent network and security posture.In a multi-cloud environment with AWS and Azure, NSX provides a number of capabilities that enable organizations to optimize their use of cloud resources and improve application performance. For example:
Software-defined networking (SDN) is an approach to networking that separates the control plane and data plane. The control plane, which makes decisions about how traffic is forwarded, is moved to a centralized controller, which communicates with the network devices (such as switches and routers) to determine how traffic should be routed. The data plane, which actually forwards the traffic, is implemented on the network devices themselves.
By separating the control and data planes, SDN allows for greater automation and programmability of the network, making it easier to manage and more agile. Network administrators can use software to control the behavior of the network devices, rather than having to configure each device individually.
SDN is often used in conjunction with network virtualization, which allows multiple virtual networks to run on a single physical network infrastructure. This enables the creation of logical networks that are isolated from one another, improving security and enabling greater flexibility.
With network virtualization, multiple virtual networks can be created on a single physical network infrastructure, and each virtual network can be isolated from one another. This isolation provides greater security, as traffic from one virtual network cannot cross over to another virtual network unless explicitly allowed. Additionally, network virtualization enables greater flexibility, as virtual networks can be created and destroyed quickly and easily to meet changing business needs.
NSX uses SDN and network virtualization to provide a consistent networking and security framework across multiple cloud environments. By abstracting the underlying infrastructure, NSX enables administrators to define and enforce network and security policies across all cloud environments, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. This provides greater agility, automation, and programmability, while also simplifying management and reducing complexity.
Micro-segmentation is a security technique that involves dividing a network into smaller segments, or micro-segments, and applying security policies to each segment. By doing so, organizations can create a more granular security posture that reduces the attack surface and provides greater visibility and control over network traffic.
NSX provides a powerful micro-segmentation solution that allows organizations to define and enforce security policies at the application and workload level. This is achieved through the use of distributed firewalls, which are deployed on each virtual machine or workload in the network. The distributed firewalls enforce security policies at the virtual machine level, allowing organizations to segment their network and apply security policies based on application context.
To configure micro-segmentation inside NSX, the network administrator needs to perform the following steps:
Define the micro-segmentation policies: The first step in configuring micro-segmentation is to define the security policies that will be applied to each micro-segment. This involves creating security groups that define the workloads or virtual machines that belong to each segment, and defining firewall rules that specify the traffic that is allowed or blocked for each group.
Create the distributed firewall rules: Once the security policies have been defined, the next step is to create the distributed firewall rules that will enforce those policies. The distributed firewall rules are deployed on each virtual machine or workload in the network, and are enforced in real-time as traffic flows through the network.
Test the micro-segmentation policies: After the distributed firewall rules have been created, it is important to test the micro-segmentation policies to ensure that they are working as intended. This involves verifying that the firewall rules are being enforced correctly, and that the traffic flows between micro-segments are being blocked or allowed based on the defined policies.
Monitor and manage the micro-segmentation policies: Once the micro-segmentation policies have been deployed, it is important to monitor and manage them on an ongoing basis. This involves monitoring the network traffic to ensure that the policies are being enforced correctly, and making adjustments to the policies as needed to ensure that they continue to provide effective security.
In summary, micro-segmentation is a security technique that involves dividing a network into smaller segments and applying security policies to each segment. NSX provides a powerful micro-segmentation solution that allows organizations to define and enforce security policies at the application and workload level.
As cloud architects, we are responsible for the design, implementation, and operationalization of the software-defined network in a multi-cloud environment. This involves understanding the business requirements, application workloads, and cloud provider capabilities to create an SDN strategy that meets the organization’s needs. We must work with network and security teams to define and enforce network and security policies across all the cloud environments we deploy our infrastructure into.
This includes designing micro-segmentation policies, configuring virtual networks and subnets, and setting up routing and connectivity between on-premises and cloud environments.
To accomplish this task, we will need to do the following:
Define the network and security requirements for the organization’s workloads and applications. This includes identifying which workloads and applications will run in each cloud environment, how they will communicate with each other, and what security controls are needed to protect them.
Design the logical network topology for each cloud environment. This includes defining the virtual networks, subnets, and routing between them. For example, in the on-premises data center, the cloud architect may create multiple virtual networks for different business units or departments, while in the public cloud environments, the architect may create virtual networks for each workload or application. (Read the article: How to Build Seamless Cloud Infrastructure).
Design the physical network infrastructure that will connect the on-premises data center to the public cloud environments. This may include selecting the appropriate network hardware and configuring it to support the necessary protocols and connectivity options.
Provide documentation for the implementation of the software-defined networking components in each cloud environment. In VMware Cloud Foundation, this would involve configuring NSX to create and manage the virtual networks and security policies. In AWS or Azure, this would involve configuring the cloud provider’s networking and security services, such as VPC or Azure Virtual Network.
Provide the documentation for implementation and configuration of the connectivity between the different cloud environments. This may involve setting up a VPN or Direct Connect connection between the on-premises data center and the public cloud environments, as well as configuring the necessary routing and firewall rules to allow traffic to flow securely between the different virtual networks.
Provide documentation on how to perform testing against the multi-cloud network and security infrastructure to ensure that it meets the organization’s requirements and that all workloads and applications can communicate with each other securely and efficiently.
In summary, NSX is a powerful software-defined networking and security platform that allows organizations to connect and manage their workloads and applications across multiple cloud environments, including on-premises data centers, public clouds like AWS and Azure, and other private clouds. With NSX, cloud architects can define and enforce network and security policies across all cloud environments, creating a single networking and security framework that simplifies management and reduces complexity.
For cloud architects responsible for designing and managing multi-cloud environments, NSX is an essential tool that can help to streamline networking and security operations, reduce complexity and risk, and enable organizations to leverage the benefits of cloud computing while maintaining control and visibility over their workloads and applications.