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The Virtual Cloud Network (VCN) was a revolution waiting to happen

Cloud | Posted on January 18, 2019 by Susana Byun

VMware announced its vision for the future of networking last May in Las Vegas, with the “Virtual Cloud Network” (VCN).

The concept to provide a single software-defined layer of connectivity, security and control for your entire mix of cloud and on-premises workloads, offers some exciting new promises to enterprise leaders and IT departments.

The Virtual Cloud Network is the logical response to our multi-cloud world

To fully understand what VCN is, you have to appreciate the context.

IT leaders have been attacking the challenges of silos, orchestration inefficiency and security at the network level for many years with software-defined networking (SDN) solutions such as NSX.

But as the enterprise continued to grow in size and complexity, with more workloads being added to multiple private and public clouds, SDN alone is no longer enough. SDN solved the challenges only for one very specific subset of challenges, while the rest of the enterprise continued its push into various clouds for various applications, and more recently “the edge,” with the Internet of Things.

It’s from within this growing, hyper-distributed chaos that the idea for VCN naturally emerges.

VCN promises a single virtual network and a consolidated way to control and secure the entire, multifaceted enterprise, including all your branch, public cloud, edge and data center workloads (and whatever comes next). With it, businesses are able to connect, better secure, and optimize the delivery of applications and data in an era when a majority of workloads exist outside the data center.

It’s like NSX, but for everything

VCN isn’t a standalone product, but a collection of solutions working together. Within VMware’s portfolio, this includes: NSX in the data center and public clouds (such AWS or Azure), VeloCloud SD-WAN for transport over wide area networks, Hybrid Connect to efficiently transport VMs between locations and AppDefense to secure VMs and containers. Finally, it includes vRealize Network Insight to provide all needed insights into the network.

As a result, VCN offers a similar umbrella of benefits to its component pieces, but on a much broader scale. Imagine having a single, consolidated set of operations, and just one team of resources, responsible for managing and securing all of your cloud, private and edge networking resources. How much faster and more agile would you be able to move, if your entire networking team was centralized and working from the same playbook? And since VCN is providing a single, software-defined layer across your enterprise ecosystem, it also maximizes your ability to automate and replace manual workflows.

VCN also opens flexibility and innovation with cloud

VCN also offers a set of new promises to the enterprise, creating more flexibility and opportunities to innovate in the multi-cloud world.

With solutions such as NSX, VCN makes it much easier to move on and off to new public cloud services, it gives enterprises a powerful way to avoid “lock-in.” Such a solution would make concepts like “burst computing,” and using the cloud on an as-needed basis far more realistic, since operators would not have to master a new services model at every step.

This flexibility has an added benefit of giving enterprises easier access to innovative technologies and solutions. Many cloud providers, such as Azure, Google and Amazon, are continually coming out with cutting edge platforms for things such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and so on. In theory, a VCN would allow you to easily integrate advanced cloud services between multi-cloud environments, and integrate them with existing services already being leveraged in your applications. It could provide a best of breed approach for your applications, where the world of cloud providers are at your disposal.

Where do you begin with VCN?

It’s worth re-iterating the VCN was pitched at VMworld 2018 as the “future of networking,” which raises the question: What about the present?

Very few enterprises are going to go out and buy the component pieces needed to fully assemble a VCN all at once. Instead, we see this transformation happening as a natural progression.

If you are already using software-defined networking, you might ask yourself: should you be expanding it to more areas of your enterprise? For example, if you are already using NSX, perhaps you should now be considering software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN)?

If you aren’t using SDN at all, what is holding you back? As you add more clouds and more workloads, things are only getting more complicated.

Learn more about our VMware solutions here and stay tuned for more articles of our VMware blog series.


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