Now that network virtualization (NV) is starting to find some mainstream adoption in the enterprise, many of the silos that have existed inside IT organizations are starting to fissure. As the virtualization trend continues, the strongest IT departments will be the ones that use virtualization to integrate IT teams and functions in the organization and to automate functions to deliver real-time IT resources.
For more years than anyone cares to remember IT organizations have been advised to break down the silos that exist, not only between application developers and IT operations teams, but also within the IT operations team itself. Even to this day servers, storage, and networking are still managed as separate fiefdoms within most large enterprise IT organizations.
Demand for Real-Time IT
In the age of the cloud, however, developers and business leaders alike have made it abundantly clear they have little patience for IT operations teams that are unable to provision resources on demand. Rather than wait weeks for those IT operations teams to manually provision compute, storage, and networking resources, developers are voting with their feet to embrace programmable public cloud services.
Of course, server and storage virtualization has been around for years. What’s changing now is, with the rise of network virtualization, internal IT organizations can now be much more agile and automated. The challenge now is to reorganize those IT teams around specific applications as opposed to around horizontal silos of IT infrastructure.
“It’s not just about the technology. It’s about different people and processes coming together,” says Milin Desai, vice president of NSX products for VMware. “In organizations that are most successful, the silos are getting broken.”
NV software, adds Desai, is the last missing piece of software-defined infrastructure required to make it possible for more organizations to break those silos.
Microservices Part of the Picture
As I’ve been writing about here, microservices will be a key part of delivering agility and real-time IT resources.
Recent moves by NV vendor VMware reflect this move toward microservices and how IT admins deploy NV software. Network administrators can obviously deploy NSX software from VMware in a standalone fashion, but the goal is to make NSX a part of the stack of software that a developer might deploy on premises or in the cloud.
VMware this week at the VMworld 2016 Europe conference announced that the VMware Photon now comes with support for NSX and VMware Virtual SAN as well as the Kubernetes container orchestration engine. VMware is pursuing a similar strategy by making available a VMware Integrated Containers (VIC) platform available on VMware vSphere as well. In addition, Desai notes that VMware is also working with any number of partners, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Mirantis, to make sure NSX is included in various stacks of software those vendors make available as well.
Getting Developers Access to Real-Time IT
Of course, as network virtualization becomes more accessible, the role network administrators play inside any given organization might also be subject to change.
For example, Weaveworks CEO Alexis Richardson says that, with the emergence of micronetworks within the context of a microservices architecture based on containers, it’s already clear that developers will increasingly self-service their own networking needs.
“Everything is becoming programmable, including the network,” says Richardson.
As a result, network administrators may be involved in initially setting up the network and defining policies. But the days when these administrators needed to get involved in every request for a network service may mercifully be coming to an end.