There’s been a lot of news and momentum surrounding VXLAN technology in the last several months, and there is no doubt that VXLAN is becoming a more strategic and pervasive technology across cloud networks as a result. When we rolled out VXLAN about two years ago with the first commercial implementation as part of our Nexus 1000V virtual switch, VXLAN was solely a virtual networking construct and had real constraints in how it could be extended to physical networks and devices. It was also restricted to overlay networks using our Nexus 1000V switch (or other virtual switches supporting the VXLAN overlay protocol).
Now, however, VXLAN is being supported broadly across Cisco networking platforms and devices, across multiple Cisco fabric architectures, and we are even seeing broader support from other vendor ecosystems and non-Cisco switching platforms. Cisco is continuing to expand its support for VXLAN onto the new Nexus 5600 Series switches, as well as Nexus 7700 Series using the F3 line card.
For those of you not fully up to speed on VXLAN, VXLAN stands for Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network, and started out as vastly more scalable Layer 2 LAN and tenant isolation construct for data center and cloud networks. Where cloud networks were running out of only 4000+ VLAN IDs to segment application networks, VXLAN gave them over 16 Million logical network segments.
Following our launch of the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), we continue with our series exploring in more detail key aspects of the ACI policy model and partner ecosystem. In Part 1 of my series on ACI, we looked at why application policies were an ideal model to build infrastructure automation around, and how application policies are better suited to mirror business objectives and requirements than traditional IT infrastructure policies. The key benefits for customers end up being vastly greater degrees of automation, process improvement and business agility.
In Part 2, we looked into one example of the difficulty in deploying and managing applications and the level of complexity that must be overcome to truly automate application-oriented tasks: application-specific network services and security policies (as well as a separate post on the partner ecosystem for application services and security solutions that support the ACI model).
In the ACI architecture, applications drive networking behavior, not the other way around. Pre-defined application requirements and descriptions (“policy templates”) automate the provisioning of the network – virtual and physical, application services, security policies, tenant subnets and workload placement. Automating the provisioning of the complete application network reduces IT costs, reduces errors, accelerates deployment and makes the business more agile.
Application Virtual Switches are thepurpose-built, hypervisor-resident virtual network edge switches designed for the ACI fabric. They provide consistent virtual networking across multiple hypervisors to simplify network operations and provide consistency with the physical infrastructure.
AVS is robustly integrated into the ACI architecture and supports Application Network Profile (ANP) enforcement at the virtual host layer consistent with the Nexus 9000 series physical switches.
AVS is managed centrally along with rest of the ACI fabric components through the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) and provides advanced telemetry features to allow end-to-end visibility and troubleshooting capabilities across both virtual and physical devices, .
AVS enables optimal traffic steering between virtual and physical layers of the fabric to maximize performance and resource utilization. For example, if the web and app tier are located on the same host, AVS can route traffic or apply security policies between these end point groups within the hypervisor itself. On the other hand, if the database is a bare metal workload that is attached to the physical Nexus 9000, the application policy is consistently applied at the physical Nexus 9000 top of rack switches instead.
Application Centric Infrastructure with Application Virtual Switch
ACI eliminates the operational complexity of differences in managing virtualized environments vs. bare metal or legacy environments. It provides a consistent operational model across both AVS and Nexus 9000 respectively. ACI also allows for flexibility of placement of application workloads based on application requirements. Watch this short video.