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VMworld - Future of Networking

Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | 2 Comments

First session this morning at VMworld was by Howie Xu, R&D Director, Virtualisation and Cloud Platform at VMware. Howie is the networking futures guys. There was much expectation for this session with speculation around its content.

Here are some of the items that Howie talked about.
  • The lines between servers and networking are being lost. The two are blending. The network needs to be extracted from the workload. Bu the rate of change in virtual environments now at the networking layer is high and companies can't fund the staff to keep up with these tasks, which are generally quite standardised.
  • The different networking services from layer 2 to 7 are a headache to manage and co-ordinate. As we head for the Cloud this is going to get worse.
  • Moving beyond the Distributed Virtual Switch we need to move to the "Distributed Virtual Network". We need to be able to do networking with anything, anytime, anywhere at any scale. We need a standard network management layer (either physical or virtual)
  • Much of the problems can be solved through virtualisation, that is having a first layer of abstraction. but still keep functions, such as separation of duty.
  • The network must be made transparent with the same services whilst being able to scale out on demand.
  • A new vision for a vChassis which contains a data management and control plane that is a "session centric" virtual platform.
  • Todays networking is based on discovering things, such as addressing via DHCP, learning MAC addresses. Yet in this new world the virtualisation layer can be authoritative, it knows all of the details and does not need to learn them.
  • a vChassis should talk virtual 3rd party line cards that provide services, such as IDS. These need to be able to interact with hardware in some cases for offload, for example SSL.
  • There are problems with doing networking today, the IP address is used for identity and location, VLANs lack features like a hierarchy. You have to pre-provision VLANs to get around things but its a little messy. We need a virtualised a layer 2 . Mention of vShield Zone/App, expect to see more of this detailed and discussed this week.
  • A mock-up screen was shown of what this may look like (see picture above).
Being one of the first sessions before the announcements were made I think some of the details which may have been discussed were left out. Hence it was a good session showing where VMware are going but it lacked that little bit of detail which gets your brain really thinking. Great to see that VMware are dealing with the management problems and including facility for the 3rd party vendors to integrate.

Hopefully it will be a little clearer for everyone by the end of the week.



  1. More correctly, the future of Data Centre Networking. Most Networking will continue just the same as it always as.

    And compared to VEPA, vShield in only one solution to the problem, with some distinct limitations.

  2. Anonymous4:46 am

    ...indeed, vshield will not be the next generation gateway/router/nat/fw or any other ;-) people not looking for vmware routers, just for integration with networking vendors development efforts ...so vmsafe api is a good way forward


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