Overcoming Network Virtualization Challenges: Nitin Mishra, Sr VP, Product Management, Netmagic

Overcoming-Network-Virtualization-Challenges:-Nitin-Mishra,-Sr-VP,-Product-Management,-NetmagicOrganizations that have already realized the benefits of server virtualization are willing to take the next step and move on to network virtualization.

By combining hardware and software resources and functionality into a single, software-based administrative entity, these organizations can reap the benefits of greater data center agility.

Network virtualization has its own set of challenges. Unlike a server, the network is a dynamic, fluid, multi-vendor environment that was not built with keeping network virtualization in mind. To complicate matters further, not all data centers are fully virtualized and not all workloads are suitable to run in virtualized environments. Organizations can overcome these challenges with proper planning and following the best practices in network virtualization.

Creating Strong Foundation
The robustness and success of a virtualized overlay network depends on the stability and strength of the underlying physical network. Before embarking on network virtualization ensure that the physical network is robust and in good shape. To ensure high performance, the physical network should be application – location neutral, exhibit any to any connectivity, be non-blocking, have low latency and jitter and should make sure that there is no packet loss under congestion.

Enabling Universal Connectivity
Network virtualization requires connecting applications between virtual networks (based on different encapsulation protocols like VXLAN or NVGRE), between virtual and physical networks and between physical data centers. This is where universal software defined networking (SDN) comes in. A universal SDN gateway provides a robust, advanced and a flexible physical and virtual network routing and bridging connections and translations required for inter, intra and cross-virtual network communications. The universal SDN gateway allows compute resources to move between networks within a physical data center, between physical data centers or between a physical data center and a cloud environment.

Bridge Between Virtual And Physical Worlds
Virtual networks need to connect to a physical device and legacy physical applications and database servers to reach a client application. Bridges or Layer 2 gateways supporting the connection between physical environments should be deployed as close to the physical resources as possible. Gateways for larger pool of physical resources should be deployed in upper tiers of the data center network to realize efficiencies of scale. For connecting to a large pool of resources such as a data center or large number of applications, gateways should be deployed at the network’s core/aggregation tier. Additionally, gateways should be deployed at the edge routing tier when running multiple virtual networks within a single physical environment as in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Network Performance, Degradation And Reliability Issues
Virtual overlay networks are designed to imitate all aspects of the underlying physical network. This leads to performance, degradation and reliability issues of the overlay network specially when broadcast, unicast or multicast packets flood the devices within a broadcast domain. Broadcast, unicast and multicast flooding places an exponential burden on the servers hosting the virtual network.

Hardware-based overlay replication offloads broadcast, unicast and multicast packets from the virtual network, allowing purpose-built hardware-based devices to convert these packets into standard broadcast, unicast or multicast packets. These packets are then forwarded to their receivers, delivering performance, scale and reliability.

Single Approach To Security
Using a single security approach to protect both physical and virtual resources reduces errors and security gaps that can occur when multiple methods are used. A single approach will also simplify administrative tasks and prevent duplication of efforts, reducing overhead.

Network Management And Automation
This approach should be extended to network management and automation efforts as well. A single approach to providing consolidated visibility into the entire network will help identify and arbitrate where issues lie. It is also advisable to establish a single point of automation to achieve consistent behavior across physical and virtual networks.

Nitin Mishra, senior vice president, Product Management, Netmagic

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