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Virtual Machines – The new unit for Cloud Networking

Jayshree Ullal
by Jayshree Ullal on Aug 24, 2010 2:27:12 AM

The rise of server virtualization has generated an exponential increase in virtual machines (VM), and in the associated virtual switches (vSwitch) used to manage them at this new network access layer. Yet the methods and tools available to operate and coordinate this new virtual network with the overall physical network are at best cumbersome, and require excessive coordination between the virtualization and network teams.

Today, the virtualization group must configure parameters in the vSwitch that are often controlled by the networking group; such as VLANs, QoS and ACL policies. Any change in the virtual network configuration or policies must be reflected manually in the physical switch configuration for the network to operate, thus introducing yet another possible failure scenario. At the same time, lack of visibility into the vSwitch configuration and operation creates yet another challenge for the network team.

Current solutions from networking companies to these operational issues have focused on trapping and confusing customers in self-serving ways with battles over where intelligence should reside in virtualized environments, and who should control it. We have been coping with convoluted mappings of physical servers and networks with VLANS, vSwitches and VMs. The reality is that the virtual switch is under management (vCenter/vSphere) control in a VMware environment. Additionally, existing network management tools have little visibility into the VMs. The optimal solution is one in which intelligence is distributed among the devices, but managed centrally for smooth integration and operations in a way which leverages the strengths of both the virtualization and network teams.

The operational challenge today of Virtual Machines is epitomized in the frequently used phrase, "Where is that VM running?"

Arista VM Tracer partnered with VMware

Our alliance with VMware continues to offer pioneering approaches that bring a total view to the virtual environment within the Data Center with the VM being the new atomic unit. Imagine a paradigm in which the management controller, e.g., VMware’s vSphere 4.1, talks to every possible server the VM could be started on and the switch ports were all appropriately and automatically pre-configured prior to a vMotion event.

Last year at VMworld 2009,we demonstrated vEOS - Arista’s virtual appliance, and a new tool for managing virtual to physical network topologies. At VMworld 2010, Arista will demonstrate the next evolution in operational ease of use, VM Tracer, in the Cloud pavilion with our partner CoreLink in their booth. With VM Tracer, customers now have a new tool for Arista switches to facilitate a seamless approach to virtual, physical and cloud networks. Legacy switches meanwhile continue to perpetuate old VLAN concepts in which port policies are defined in a physical LAN switch only - ignoring the needs of the virtual network.

Using Arista’s VM Tracer tool as shown in the following figure, the VM is defined in a management console, such as VMware’s vSphere 4.1, which then directs the hypervisor to create a new VM. The Arista 7000 Family switch subscribes to these VM changes, and via direct API integration learns which network segmentation policy is being applied to this new virtual machine. The Arista switch then applies the appropriate policy to traffic entering the physical network and monitors profiles from vSphere which indicate when the VM has fully moved. This creates an adaptive infrastructure in which the physical network responds to sensed changes in the virtual machine network.

vmtracer

VM Tracer: Seamless Virtual Machine Mobility

Arista’s VM Tracer is a pragmatic solution to the operational problems caused by the need for complex manual coordination between network and server groups trying to consistently administer both the virtual and physical networks. Interlock between the Arista 7000 family of switches and VMware’s vSphere enables seamless network management of every aspect of the virtual machine from a single console; its name, its location, and relevant profiles.

Welcome to the new world of Virtual Machines – the new atomic unit of Cloud Networking!

References

VM Tracer Press Release

Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of Arista Networks. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Arista Networks or any other party.
Jayshree Ullal
Written by Jayshree Ullal
As President and CEO of Arista for a decade, Jayshree Ullal is responsible for Arista’s business and thought leadership in cloud networking. She led the company to a historic and successful IPO in June 2014 from zero to a multibillion dollar business. Formerly Jayshree was Senior Vice President at Cisco, responsible for a $10B business in datacenter, switching and services. With more than 30 years of networking experience, she is the recipient of numerous awards including E&Y’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2015 and Barron’s “World’s Best CEOs” in 2018.

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