At Cisco Live! in London this week, Cisco is demonstrating some enhancements to its Nexus 1000V virtual switch that greatly ease some of the challenges in deploying VXLAN in large scale cloud networks. VXLAN was designed to solve the problem of setting up traditional virtual networks (VLANs) in large multi-tenant cloud environments: the limited ID range for VLAN tags was quickly exhausted and a larger ID pool was needed for larger shared infrastructures. VXLAN thus becomes the foundation for a virtual network tunnel or virtual network overlays on top of physical networks. And unlike VLANs, VXLANs are designed to act as L2 virtual networks over L3 physical networks. For a more in-depth refresher on VXLAN, start here.
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While VXLANs have certainly enabled a whole new level of scalability for virtual networks, one of the challenges in deploying VXLAN is its use of IP Multicast to implement the L2 over L3 network capability. Why is this? VXLAN is a MAC-in-IP encapsulation protocol in a UDP frame. The virtual switch that acts as the VXLAN termination (in Cisco’s case, the Nexus 1000V virtual switch) takes the L2 packet from the VM, wraps it in a L3 IP header, and sends it out over UDP. But the challenge is that there’s no way to determine which IP address should be used for the destination host (VXLAN termination point) at which the desired MAC address can be found. In other protocols, this can be accomplished within the network control plane and some MAC to IP mapping protocol, but the VXLAN specification indicates there should be no reliance on a control plane or a physical to virtual mapping table.
I am going to spend the next couple of posts digging through one of the more interesting new technologies we are working on: a standard called Locator/ID Separation Protocol (or LISP). Why should you care—well if you are looking at deploying clouds, supporting mobility of end-points or VMs or are managing a routing architecture or any meaningful size or complexity, I think it will be worth your while to check out LISP.
LISP is a new approach to routing that is designed to address the changes in how we are using our networks. Lets explore LISP through the lens of one of the biggest challenges facing network architects today: properly tackling mobility, whether its mobile endpoints like smartphones, tablets or squirrels or the mobile workloads that are at the heart of server virtualization and cloud computing. While mobility this is probably the “sexiest” use case right now, there are a number of other use cases, like routing architecture scalability and IPv6 migration, which, while less alluring to all but the biggest networking nerds, are no less important.
[Update 11/26/12: the free Nexus 1000V virtual switch is available for download from here.]
Following on the heels of the announcement of our Nexus 1000V 2.1 release last month, Cisco is today announcing a new pricing and packaging strategy for its flagship virtual switch portfolio. Starting with that new 2.1 release, which is now in beta, we will have two editions of the Nexus 1000V, an Essential Edition and an Advanced Edition. The Nexus 1000V Essential Edition will be available for free, plus a nominal annual support fee, in a move that we believe will encourage customers and our partners to proliferate what has already become the most popular virtual switch in the industry with over 6,000 customers to date.
The Nexus 1000V Essential Edition provides all the rich Layer-2 networking features to connect virtual applications to the network and integrate into VMware environments, including: VXLAN capability, Cisco vPath service insertion, integration with vCloud Director, and a plug-in for management and monitoring in VMware’s vCenter Server. This free version will enable rapid, low-risk adoption of Cisco’s virtual network technology environments.
The Advanced Edition, priced at $695 per CPU, the same price as the current 1.5 release, includes:
The Cisco Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) for Nexus 1000V, a virtual firewall with visibility to virtual machine attributes for building sophisticated compliance policies, and logical trust zones between applications (VSG was previously sold as a separate product).
The networking industry has recently developed a renewed interest in virtual overlays, often wrapped in an “SDN as the controller” context. Amidst the promise, the hope and the hype, the following questions present themselves:
What exactly is an overlay?
What distinguishes an overlay from a VPN?
How decoupled can an overlay be from the underlay network and what are the tradeoffs?
What are the advantages of overlays and will they emerge as the new networking world order? Read More »
Talking to customers is always the best part of the show, hearing what their challenges are, and positioning our technology to fit their needs. On Wednesday, I met up with Paul O’Leary, an Infrastructure Specialist with the international law firm of King & Wood Mallesons. Paul is a big fan of the Cisco Nexus 1000V and shares why his networking team loves it so much, and how it consistently saves them time in managing their network policies.
We showed Paul some of the features coming out in our next release, like the vCenter plug-in, and vTracker for viewing statistics on the virtual fabric, et al., and he was really excited. Anyway, Paul was good enough to let us share his thoughts with you rather spontaneously, so without any further ado, let’s roll the video: