Shredding the Limits of Network Virtualization

How snowboarding eventually led Scott Driver to the NSX Mindset, and how that ultimately led to more snowboarding.

How does one become IT director of one of Vermont’s largest credit unions? If you’re Scott Driver, you start by dropping out of college to man the help desk of the world’s biggest snowboard company. Then you get laid off.
How much of your career has been reacting to change vs. leading it?

Fortunately, I got laid off from my first job. And no, that’s not a typo. It taught me to never rest on my laurels, and that’s an invaluable lesson. I think a successful career takes a healthy balance of both reactive and proactive thinking, and there are gradients to both.

For example, PowerCLI had its 10th birthday, yet it’s not heavily used in my area. In that respect, I’m reacting to an industry wave of automation, while being proactive about trying to get my community to become more creative, engaged, efficient, and active.

What does NSX Mindset mean to you?

I personally take a step back and think of it more strategically as the Software-Defined Mindset. ESXi changed the game with compute virtualization. VMware vSAN has been making great inroads into storage virtualization, and VMware NSX is taking the next step with virtualizing network and security.

What these all have in common is that they obfuscate away a physical layer, making the stacks more portable and flexible. But for me, the largest benefit is that compute, storage, and network resources can now be deployed, configured, and managed via code, allowing for automation and a more efficient enterprise.

The largest benefit of being software defined is that compute, storage, and network resources can now be deployed, configured, and managed via code, allowing for automation and a more efficient enterprise.
What does a united IT strategy mean to you?

When I realized VMware was closing a major gap in their Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) vision by offering network virtualization alongside server/compute and storage virtualization. With this step, they showed how you could programmatically deploy a full stack of infrastructure. If you combine the NSX firewall with the new security offerings and partnerships from VMware, you can see how both large and small organizations now have the opportunity to realize a full end-to-end SDDC.

What was your aha moment that led you down the path of NSX?

When I realized VMware was closing a major gap in their Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) vision by offering network virtualization alongside server/compute and storage virtualization. With this step, they showed how you could programmatically deploy a full stack of infrastructure. If you combine the NSX firewall with the new security offerings and partnerships from VMware, you can see how both large and small organizations now have the opportunity to realize a full end-to-end SDDC.

How has network virtualization changed your organization and your career?

For my organization, NSX has meant a nice, warm, comfy security blanket, wrapping us all up in micro-segmentation. More specifically, it’s enabled us to enhance our security posture by being able to dynamically protect the environment in a way we couldn’t do with traditional network infrastructure.

For me personally, it’s yet another challenge to force myself to evolve my skills and hopefully share some useful knowledge with the community that’s helped me so much. In 2016, I shared a VCP-DCV study guide on my blog, and as my NSX education continues, I hope to be able to offer the same for VCP-NV at some point in the future.

For my organization, NSX has meant a nice, warm, comfy security blanket, wrapping us all up in micro-segmentation.
How do you see NSX affecting the networking and security industry?

Big changes are coming from the growth of NSX. It democratizes networking and security. As DevOps movements continue to build and operations teams grow out of their traditional infrastructure space, everyone can become more involved with the implementation and operation of the security plane.

As the NSX customer base grows, the security industry will have to follow suit in enabling all IT practitioners to interact with their platforms, not just traditional InfoSec roles.

How do you stay ahead of the constant changes and advancements in IT?

For many of us mere mortal IT practitioners, staying ahead of the game can be like chasing a unicorn. I find that keeping a constant pulse on the community and the thought leaders within it are the best way to keep up with evolving tech.

I have a small but decent daily commute, so podcasts are a really great way to hear what the thought leaders and evangelists are keeping an eye on. Blogs and Twitter are another great way to monitor the pulse on things. And, of course, you’ve got to be attending your local VMware User Group meetings (shout out to Champlain Valley VMUG @CVVMUG)!