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vPath: The Secret Sauce to Enabling Virtual Network Services

July 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm PST

Wow, there’s been a lot of news in the SDN and virtual networking space in the last week or so! VMware acquiring Nicira, and Oracle acquiring Xsigo are testimony to how important virtual overlay networks and virtual switching infrastructure has become for data center vendors, and how integral they are to each company’s strategy. Speaking of our own Nexus 1000V-based virtual networks, last week I provided an overview and some new resources on Virtual Extensible LANs (VXLAN) for Nexus 1000V virtual switches. That turned out to be quite a popular post, so I’m following up this week on another fundamental component of Nexus 1000V-based virtual networks, vPath, the secret sauce that allows us to deploy virtual network services in the data center.

What is vPath? Well, if VXLANs can set up secure tunnels over a shared, multi-tenant virtual network, vPath is a feature of the Nexus 1000V virtual switch that can redirect traffic to virtual application services before the switch sends the packets down into the virtual machine. Very important stuff, but how does it do that? I find that my blog posts are more popular the less I type, and the more I embed cool TechWiseTV videos that illustrate the concept, so I’m dusting off this classic from the TWTV team on just how vPath does that with our Virtual Security Gateway (VSG). Take it away Robb

But wait, there’s more… Read More »

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Some Afterthoughts on Open Network Environment, SDN and Overlay Networks

June 25, 2012 at 11:04 am PST

After our Open Network Environment (Cisco ONE) announcement at Cisco live!, where we unveiled our strategy for network programmability, Jim Duffy at NetworkWorld had a very interesting article that asks a key question, “What are the killer apps for software defined networks?” While SDN technology is very exciting and holds a great deal of promise, the answer to that question will ultimately determine how quickly it is adopted and by who. The consensus is that network virtualization or virtual network overlays are one of the early killer apps that software defined networks can certainly enable (when coupled with other technologies), which is exactly why Cisco made virtual overlays one of the three solution pillars of its ONE announcement. As I mentioned in my TechwiseTV video on virtual overlays, the primary use case for SDN/OpenFlow research in universities is also campus network slicing or creating virtual network partitions for test and production environments, e.g., to share a physical network. As noted in Duffy’s article, virtual overlays can be done with or without OpenFlow.

Open Network EnvironmentIn the aftermath of a major launch, after reading the press and analyst coverage of the news, I always ask what we could have made clearer, what could have been highlighted better, or how could we have made the complexity of some of the details easier to understand. One such point that probably could have been clarified is just how “open” the Open Network Environment (what’s in a name anyway?). Specifically, regarding our Nexus 1000V virtual overlay framework, there were some comments and questions about how open and interoperable this overlay framework was, especially compared to other vendors touting programmable overlays. One financial analyst firm even stated that our overlay networks had some great advantages, but only worked with Cisco switches.  Read More »

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Third-Party Virtual Services on the Cisco Nexus 1010-X Appliance Start with Imperva WAF

June 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm PST

Nexus 1010-X services imageIn a blog post earlier this year, I highlighted the Nexus 1010-X virtual services appliance announced at Cisco Live! in London, and why virtual services can be best deployed on a separate UCS-based appliance running NX-OS. The Nexus 1010 and 1010-X are dedicated platforms for hosting virtual service nodes, like the Nexus 1000V virtual supervisor module (VSM), virtual firewalls, and our virtual network analysis module (NAM). All these services run in virtual machines on the Nexus 1010, rather than taking up valuable resources on application servers, and allow for easier manageability by the networking and security teams (rather than the server team).

Continuing on the same theme, this week at Cisco live! San Diego (my how time flies between these shows!), web application firewall (WAF) manufacturer, Imperva, announced that their SecureSphere WAF would soon be available on the Cisco Nexus 1010-X virtual services appliance (Q4 CY 2012). This is the first third-party virtual service announced on either the Nexus 1010 or 1010-X appliance, and provides additional security capabilities on top of Cisco’s virtualization infrastructure for cloud applications.  Read More »

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Italian Service Provider Transforms Virtualized Server Farm Management

March 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm PST

FASTWEB logoA key component of Cisco’s Unified Data Center and our virtual networking portfolio is the Nexus 1010 virtual services appliance. We were excited last month when we announced a more scalable version, the Nexus 1010-X. As I pointed out before, the idea of a virtual services appliance is to provide a dedicated hardware platform for running a wide range of network services, monitoring and security virtual machines rather than having them share server resources with key business applications. From an administrative point of view, these network services VM’s can be managed by the networking team, rather than the teams running VM’s on the application servers, which is the right division of labor. The Nexus 1010 platform runs NX-OS and basically looks like a network device rather than a VM host, helping the network admins manage the service policies.

Now we are releasing a case study of an Italian service provider, FASTWEB, who is using the Nexus 1010 to simplify the management of their virtual network, and network service policies. As part of a sustained and forward looking strategy, the Italian service provider has built a next-generation network for delivering converged voice, video, data and mobile services. This investment has enabled FASTWEB to accelerate the creation of new, differentiated offers for business and residential customers, while reducing operational complexity and overhead.

The Nexus 1010 supports network analysis down to the VM layer, giving FASTWEB’s network administrators granular visibility to virtual workloads, without having to trouble the storage and virtualization operations teams.

Read More »

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Lippis Video Introduces Cisco’s Network Virtualization Portfolio

February 6, 2012 at 9:40 am PST

Nick Lippis of the Lippis Report sits down with Prashant Gandhi, Cisco’s Sr. Director of Marketing for Virtualization in our Server Access and Virtualization Business Unit, to discuss all things virtual in this new video podcast. Prashant does a great job showing why Cisco’s network virtualization stack is the most complete in the industry, including the Nexus 1000V virtual switch, the Virtual Security Gateway (VSG), the ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall, the virtual Wide Area Application Services (vWAAS) WAN optimization solution, Network Services Manager (NSM), Virtual Network Management Center (VNMC), and the Nexus 1010 and new 1010-X Virtual Services Appliance. When you include recently announced technologies like VXLAN and support for the Microsoft Windows Server 8 Hyper-V hypervisor later this year, a great overview video like this can help you keep up with all the recent innovations.

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