VMworld 2014: Essential Networking Sessions

It’s that time again. VMworld 2014 opens in San Francisco on Monday, August 25. With fifty sessions covering network virtualization and security this year, it is clear that VMware is once again pushing software defined networking (SDN) and NSX, and that is as serious about the software defined network as it is about the rest of the data center. Unfortunately, I cannot make the conference this year, but I have perused the session catalog to see what sessions I would attend if I could. These cover a cross section of technical and procedural levels and should be beneficial to network virtualization newbies and veterans alike.

So, in no particular order, let’s start with my ten-ish most interesting SDN sessions. OK, so I couldn’t get it down to ten, and there are a couple more that should have made this list, but “my twenty-seven and three quarters most interesting sessions” doesn’t really cut it.

For those interested in getting certified, the obvious one is:

NET1214 – NSX Certification: The Next Step in Your Networking Career

  • Chris McCain – Director of Technical Certification, Networking, and Security, VCDX-079, VMware

This session will introduce the new certification path for network virtualization with VMware NSX. Those attending will have the opportunity to hear about VMware’s training and certification around VMware NSX, as well as the opportunity to talk to existing certified experts about their experience with the new career track and how it has changed the way they work.

A few best practices (I really wish that marketing would drop this adage and use the term “recommended configurations” instead):

NET1401 – vSphere Distributed Switch Best Practices for NSX

  • Francois Tallet – Product Line Manager, VMware
  • Rajiv Krishnamurthy – Director, R&D NSBU, VMware

This session will regale the attendee with design considerations and VMware’s recommendations for virtual networking in an NSX deployment regarding the virtual distributed switch. The session covers uplink connectivity, security, quality of service, monitoring, troubleshooting, and scalability recommendations for NSX.

NET1966 – Operational Best Practices for VMware NSX

  • James Zabala – Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Nauman Mustafa – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware

This session offers a technical overview of the NSX vSphere architecture and its components in order to provide a foundation for understanding the operational impact of the technology. It then moves to focus on the operational toolsets and visibility available in NSX environments. This session will be augmented by demonstrations to provide examples of real-world operational scenarios with network virtualization along with best practices on how to solve them. It sounds like a nice overview and getting-to-know-you session.

A couple of deep dives and a reference design:

NET2745 – vSphere Distributed Switch: Technical Deep Dive

  • Chris Wahl – Senior Technical Architect, AHEAD
  • Jason Nash – CTO, Varrow

This session is worth going to just to listen to Chris and Jason drop knowledge. It is a regular at VMworld, and this year’s iteration gives you a live lab deep dive on the VDS in a variety of real-world use cases. Attendees will learn how to migrate their existing standard vSwitch environment to the VDS and will gain new knowledge on features such as Network IO Control (NIOC), Network Resource Pools, Link Aggregation with LACP, Port Mirroring, Load Based Teaming (LBT), Quality of Service (QoS) marking, and Access Control Lists (ACL).

NET1583 – NSX for vSphere Logical Routing Deep Dive

  • Max Ardica – Technical Product Manager, VMware
  • Dave LeRoy – Sr. Engineering Mgr., VMware

This is not for the faint-hearted: it really does sound like a deep dive. This session will discuss how communication can be enabled in the logical space between virtual and physical workloads. The first part provides a quick overview of the VXLAN overlay protocol and L2 logical switching functionalities. The central part of the session offers deep technical details (including packet walks) on how L3 communication is enabled in the logical space. This is done both for intra-DC traffic flows (East-West communication) and for communication to the external L3 network infrastructure (North-South traffic flows).

NET1674 – Advanced Topics and Future Directions in Network Virtualization with NSX

  • Bruce Davie – Principal Engineer, VMware

I fully expect this session to be a deep dive, as it specifically states they expect delegates to have familiarity with network virtualization and general NSX concepts. It explores some of the advanced capabilities of NSX and takes a look at where the platform is heading in the future. Topics will include:

  • Current and future approaches to service chaining
  • The latest developments in encapsulations for network virtualization
  • Integrating physical devices and workloads into virtual networks
  • Multi–data center virtual networks.

NET1743 – VMware NSX: A Technical Deep Dive

  • Ben Basler – NSX Product Management, VMware
  • Roberto Mari – Manager, Technical Marketing, VMware NSX, VMWare

Another deep dive, this session will give attendees a technical understanding of the components of NSX. By the end of it, delegates are expected to understand how switching, routing, firewalling, load-balancing, and other services work within NSX. Key topics include:

  • What are overlay networks?
  • What are logical networks?
  • How does it all come together on a physical infrastructure?

Attendees will learn how security rules can be applied to logical networks with NSX. Demonstrations to highlight the key workflows are included.

NET1589 – Reference Design for SDDC with NSX and vSphere

  • Nimish Desai – Desai, VMware
  • Ganesan Chandrashekhar – Engineer, VMware

This will be a useful session. This reference design session will help enable VMware customers and partners to understand the building of a fully automated, flexible, and secure data center with design approaches utilizing virtualization of essential networking and security components over hardware-agnostic IP transport. It will also cover how those design choices enable the on-demand deployment of the multi-tiered application stack.

The specific reference design covers three essential topics:

  • Properties of NSX components
  • Design consideration with NSX components such as distributed routing, distributed firewall, and interaction with physical networking for routing and bridging
  • Orchestration/automation using vCloud Automation Center with NSX.

NET2033 – VMware Compliance Reference Architecture Framework Overview

  • Noah Weisberger – Director, Cloud and Virtualization Practice, Coalfire
  • Allen Shortnacy – Staff Partner Architect, VMware

Anybody working in a PCI DSS 3.0, FedRAMP, HIPAA/HITECH, or the like should attend this session. The compliance reference architecture framework that VMware has developed provides best practices and audit validation for scoping, designing, implementing, and operating a vCloud environment to achieve the outcome of successfully passing regulatory compliance audits. In this session, delegates will learn the following from those who have actually done this:

  • The method for deriving these compliance reference architectures
  • How to consume the content
  • Whether they directly address a regulation you’re concerned with or not.

A business one: Advice on how to justify the move to NSX

NET1786 – The Business Case for Network Virtualization

  • Rod Stuhlmuller – Director, Product Marketing, VMware
  • Chris King – VP, Product Marketing, VMware

This session explores the key elements from several organizations’ business cases and details the types of ROI that they have seen. It will explore justifications across three audiences:

  • Business and IT executives
  • Operations teams
  • Infrastructure (networking and security teams).

If this is a Ronseal session by the end, attendees should have a solid approach for justifying network virtualization and it’s ability to improve the agility, speed, security, and efficiency of the data center.

These are musts, if only for the knowledge these four people can drop you:

Scott, Brad, Chris. and Jason are four of the most knowledgeable people in the world. If you only go to two sessions, these should be them.

NET1468 – A Tale of Two Perspectives: IT Operations with VMware NSX

  • Brad Hedlund – Engineering Architect, NSX, VMware
  • Scott Lowe – Engineering Architect, VMware

Presented as a series of conversations between a server admin/operator and a network admin/operator, this session will educate attendees about how they can use both existing knowledge and existing operational tools as well as new tools enabled by the use of VMware NSX. Each conversation will address a specific operational task, examining how both server admins/operators and network admins/operators can approach it. This dual approach will help provide attendees with a more informed view of how both teams can work together in environments using VMware NSX.

Program Location: Europe and US

NET2747 – VMware NSX: Software Defined Networking in the Real World

  • Chris Wahl – Senior Technical Architect, AHEA
  • Jason Nash – CTO, Varrow

Software defined networking (SDN) offers a great deal of flexibility and agility for many organizations, but often network and virtualization administrators are unclear on how it is actually implemented and leveraged. This session will take attendees through real-world use cases for SDN and address what they need to know before VMware NSX is implemented in their environments. The different functions of VMware NSX will be shown. Attendees will gain a firm understanding of how to utilize components such as distributed firewall, distributed routing, load balancers, edge services, and third-party security integration. Also covered in detail are the technical requirements and steps to implement the SDN framework into the physical networking and virtualization environment, along with best practices and deployment recommendations.

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