The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) has released this week a whitepaper and companion video looking at virtual network overlays and their use in multi-tenant environments. This comes on the heels of the ESG research brief on Cisco’s recently announced Cisco ONE set of network programming interfaces which includes Nexus 1000V-based virtual overlays.
ESG points out that virtual network overlays are important to building out multi-tenant environments like private and hybrid clouds, as well as overcoming scalability issues in those environments that have traditionally been based on VLANs. As ESG notes, and as Cisco mentioned in it’s ONE announcement, programmability of the virtual networks is what really separates them from classic overlays based on MPLS or GRE tunnels. The Nexus 1000V will achieve this programmability capability by SDN API’s such as OpenStack on top of the Nexus 1000V virtual supervisor module.
ESG included some interesting market insights on what organizations look for when choosing a particular virtual switch. These selection criteria from a multitude of organizations highlight specific Nexus 1000V benefits, such as seamless integration with servers and fabric interconnects, a common management infrastructure across physical and virtual switches, and the ability to support heterogeneous server (and even hypervisor) environments.
ESG also points out that northbound API’s in this new generation of virtual network overlays will eventually allow for much greater automation and orchestration of cloud environments:
The ability to tie into higher levels of automation and orchestration will be important to enable private cloud environments. The northbound interfaces from the Nexus 1000V VSM will enable application developers to build cloud automation tools, and because the Nexus 1000V will use open APIs like OpenStack, these application developers may be able to port their orchestration applications to other SDN and virtual overlay infrastructures.
As virtualization increases, programmable virtual networks are going to be an important foundation on which to build more scalable multi-tenant environments. This ESG research points to some key attributes to consider and should be a good resource to clarify their role in cloud networks.