How To

How To Virtualize Your Network Infrastructure in 3 Steps

Efficiency and freedom are both principles that IT teams must prioritize to spur further success, whereas lacking those principles might lead to burdensome restrictions or even failure. Applying virtualization to your company’s network is one way to bolster efficiency and free yourself from the restrictions of a physical-only networking strategy.

With a virtualized network infrastructure on the Nutanix platform, you can reap the full benefits of network virtualization.

Key Takeaways:

  • Server virtualization is the precursor to many virtualization practices and is a necessary first step toward virtualizing a network.
  • Virtualizing your network entails transforming network services into software and abstracting them from the physical hardware and infrastructure. With some network virtualization solutions only serving to complicate an already complex problem, you need a simple solution that elegantly improves the performance and manageability of your network.

While both Nutanix and VMware offer virtualization solutions, the Nutanix approach leans much more strongly toward granting the end user the power of choice while also making the virtualization so simple that you can condense it into just a few easy steps.

What is virtualized network infrastructure?

Network virtualization is the abstraction of network functions and services  from the underlying physical infrastructure. The abstraction is facilitated by a network hypervisor such as Nutanix AHV which is an end-to-end hypervisor facilitating the creation and management of virtual machines.  This process combines network hardware and software functionality into a single entity known as a virtualized network infrastructure. 

Layering software abstraction over multiple physical networks makes it possible and easy to combine them into one large interconnected virtual network. Conversely, network virtualization software also allows for the separation of one physical network into smaller segmented networks that exist virtually within one hardware location.

Like any virtualization process, building a virtualized network infrastructure entails using virtual machines as duplicate instances of the underlying network device. Capable hypervisor software is a necessary component in the virtualization environment for its ability to manage VMs and handle the allocation of resources among them.

Ultimately, network virtualization benefits organizations by granting speed, scalability, reliability, and manageability to operations.  Here are a few crucial steps for successfully virtualize your network and capitalizing on the benefits:

Step 1: Virtualize your servers

Server virtualization is a prolific practice that allows organizations to extract maximum value from their physical hardware. It is the basis for cloud computing and many other modern IT practices.

Similarly, server virtualization is a precursor to network virtualization. Like any other device in the datacenter stack, network devices draw resources from servers. A company that is not investing in server virtualization solutions is not harnessing the full power of its hardware and is therefore likely to struggle with establishing an entire virtualized network infrastructure.

Successfully virtualizing your servers requires using a platform such as Nutanix AHV that comes with a fully equipped hypervisor that can spin up and manage virtual machines in your environment. Unlike other virtualization solutions, Nutanix is adept at accommodating a hybrid ecosystem and can facilitate extending virtualization from on-premises systems to the public cloud.

Another feature of server virtualization is the ability to move VMs across locations, making it easy to lay the groundwork for network virtualization even in a cloud environment or to begin cloud migration in the first place.

Step 2: Virtualize your network

A datacenter model that has server virtualization at its core is better equipped to adopt virtualization in other aspects of the infrastructure, especially if that infrastructure is also cloud-ready. Taking the next step in virtualizing the network will bring your enterprise much closer to a fully virtualized network infrastructure.

The act of virtualizing a network comes down to decoupling network services from the underlying hardware. Network resources then become free from certain physical restrictions, and the act of configuring or maintaining those resources no longer requires on-site upkeep.

At the same time, this entails decoupling the network control plane from its data plane. This means the user can virtually provision network resources across the broad-reaching data plane from a software-based control plane at a central location.

In the resulting virtualized network environment, it is possible to deliver physical network resources through software while attaching software-based services to respective workloads.

Step 3: Embrace simplified network virtualization

While there are multiple solutions on the market for transitioning to a virtualized network infrastructure, not all of them are easy to use or even particularly user-friendly. If you are a first-time consumer of network virtualization solutions, or if your current platform creates too much resistance, you need a simple path to a virtualized network.

Nutanix AHV is a comprehensive virtualization platform that enables the management of the entire stack, including the network layer. A unified control plane with an emphasis on simplicity for the user makes it easy to interface with virtual networking as well as hyperconverged infrastructure elements, automation, and security.

Seamless integration with the virtual network even allows for rapid, adaptable configuration of network elements directly from the control plane. This level of simplicity is consistent, regardless of where each respective element is located and whether the location is a proprietary or third-party cloud.

Other virtualization platforms such as VMware do not provide the same simplicity and consistency. Users in the VMware environment may have to learn different tools and processes for interacting with network elements at each different location. With Nutanix AHV, you can accomplish and manage all your virtualized network infrastructure tasks through one standardized interface i.e. Nutanix Prism.

Check out this IDC whitepaper, to see the business value of the Nutanix Cloud Platform and the hybrid multicloud.

Harness industry-leading virtualized network infrastructure

Allied Market Research valued the network function virtualization market at $21.90 billion in 2021 and projects that value to increase to $180.67 billion by 2031. This is a growing technology movement that is unavoidable, but it is also a move that companies should make properly.

Network virtualization powered by Nutanix AHV and supported by Nutanix Flow security is the best path toward virtualizing your network infrastructure. 

The Nutanix platform is also the best place to build a network that spans multiple clouds. Unlike VMware, Nutanix offers fully portable licenses and therefore allows you to optimally place data and apps across the hybrid cloud with no restrictions.

Companies operating in the Nutanix environment have unparalleled freedom for their virtualized network infrastructure. Not only will your network gain speed and scalability through virtualization, but it will also be a medium through which you can deploy your enterprise’s data and apps anywhere.

Learn more about embracing cloud native computing in your virtualized network environment and how to virtualize desktop infrastructure as well.

The Nutanix “how-to” info blog series is intended to educate and inform Nutanix users and anyone looking to expand their knowledge of cloud infrastructure and related topics. This series focuses on key topics, issues, and technologies around enterprise cloud, cloud security, infrastructure migration, virtualization, Kubernetes, etc. For information on specific Nutanix products and features, visit here.

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