VMware announced a number of new features for NSX which are necessary, but incremental.
- VMware’s technology partners need to be wary when the company enters their market.
On the run up to VMworld 2015 VMware released NSX 6.2 which added a few new features such as inter vCenter NSX support, universal firewall rules, security groups, logical routers, and logical switches, and a new troubleshooting tool called Traceflow. Collectively, these are important but incremental updates to NSX. A bigger game changer coming at the end of September is the integration between the virtual and physical network when VMware and its hardware networking partners like HP complete the support of OVSDB in NSX to manage hardware virtual tunnel end-points (VTEPs). In the far distant future, VMware will also support virtual networking with cloud services like Amazon Web Services by creating a VM that runs a virtual switch which NSX can then manage.
It looks more and more like VMware is going to get into the SD-WAN space as the demand for inter-data center and data center to cloud networking increases, which encroaches on VMware’s technology partners which offer SD-WAN products and services. VMware has this history of encroaching on products that are starting to gain traction. In some cases, VMware’s offerings are often not nearly as feature-rich as other products from competitors, err, partners—VMware’s distributed load balancer won’t replace application delivery controllers from the likes of A10, Citrix, F5, or Kemp Software, nor would its distributed firewall replace full featured products from Checkpoint and Palo Alto for customers who need more advanced capabilities, for instance—but VMware’s products offer enough features that some customers wouldn’t even look for an alternative. SD-WAN seems to be the next target.
I’ve said before that SDN will succeed largely on the backs of the vendors’ ecosystems because the ability to stitch together a consistent, versatile, and reliable networking while reducing operational costs and complexity provides more value for less effort. Additionally, applications which interact with the SDN will drive new capabilities and opportunities that are difficult if not impossible today. But no technology partner can commit too many resources to VMWare integration at the expense of other partnerships without risking access to the very customers they are trying to reach.
VMware tends to be good to its partners and it will certainly take advantage of its position within its own ecosystem while excluding technology partners from similar access, but the tide—driven by commoditization and multi-sourcing by customers—may be turning against them with the rise of strong competitive products and open source projects.