At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 conference, VMware moved to bring network virtualization into the realm of DevOps by adding support for a declarative programming model and JSON data formats to version 2.4 of NSX-T.
In addition, VMware is making it possible to use the open source Ansible automation framework to deploy NSX-T.
Finally, VMware is adding support for IPv6 as well as the ability to now extend microsegmentation all the way to Layer 7 of the application stack.
Jonathan Morin, product marketing manager for NSX at VMware, said this release of NSX-T not only will become the dominant version of NSX for VMware in the enterprise, it also represents a concerted effort to make network virtualization directly accessible to both developers and IT operations teams alike. JSON support is critical from that perspective because it makes it easier to programmatically replicate the networking requirements and security controls attached to any class of applications.
Longer-term, JSON support will also make it easier for a wide variety of management tools to consume metrics generated by NSX-T.
IT organizations must determine to what degree they want to fold network operations into DevOps. Some organizations will simply prefer to provide developers with access to self-service virtual networks, while others will move to expose the declarative application programming interfaces (APIs) in NSX-T 2.4 directly to developers, said Morin.
VMware expects that, going forward, a hybrid method for deploying and managing NSX will emerge. Developers will want to programmatically invoke network resources as they build and deploy applications. But network administrators will need to be able to access tools to manage those virtual networks over time. To facilitate that process, the latest version of NSX-T has been updated to add support for an HTML5-based user interface. The goal is to not just distribute NSX-T, but also make it accessible to everyone, said Morin.
Rather than requiring organizations to upgrade switches and routers to enable programmability, VMware has been making a case for employing network virtualization to create a programmable overlay. That approach serves to make the underlying physical network agile enough to be employed with a DevOps framework without requiring organizations to upgrade the entire physical network.
In many ways, networking represents the last major frontier to which DevOps processes need to expand. It’s possible for developers to spin up a virtual machine in the cloud or in an on-premises environment in seconds. But it can still take weeks to manually provision the networking resources in an on-premises environment that a virtual machine requires. VMware has been advocating for the deployment of instances of NSX in both on-premises IT environments and in public clouds to provide a consistent network overlay that can be programmatically invoked and automated.
It remains to be seen to what degree network operations will be pulled into DevOps processes going forward. But the one thing that is clear is that IT organizations have the option to decide to what level they might want to achieve that goal.