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18 February 2019

Cisco Virtual Networking



I was working as a virtualization administrator 9 years ago and I still remember how the virtualization team had to configure and manage the virtual network. The main tasks of the virtualization team were to create and manage virtual machines but, from time to time, we also had to manage the virtual network. I always thought networking should be managed by the networking team regardless of virtual or physical, but the networking team said everything virtual should be managed by the virtualization team. It was chaotic.

Actually, I already really loved networking and I didn’t mind to manage virtual networks but roles and responsibilities were not clarify defined. Therefore, nobody applied network and security policies between virtual machines and nobody wanted to troubleshoot communication problems between virtual machines. However, clear separation of roles could already be got with technologies such as Nexus 1000V and VM-FEX. These two technologies help organizations to address these problems.

Cisco Virtual Networking Solution Options

Cisco Virtual Networking solutions, such as VM-FEX and Nexus 1000V, help customers to reduce the operational complexities and take advantages of virtual technologies. For instance, virtual networks can be managed in the same way that physical networks because we’ll have the same command line (Cisco NX-OS CLI) and network administrators won’t have to be retrained. In addition, we’ll use the same monitoring and management tools to manage both environments. What’s more, we will be able to apply network and security policies between virtual machines.

I’ve already written about Cisco Nexus Fabric Extender (FEX), which removes the line cards from the modular switch with the aim of installing remote line cards as ToR switches. However, these remote line cards are like virtual wires to the Parent Switch where the management, control and data plane are carried out. VM-FEX is the same Cisco FEX technology but it is applied to the virtual environment thus VM-FEX extends the physical network to virtual machines.

Cisco VM-FEX Extends Cisco Fabric Extender Technology with Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnects
 
One of the main benefits of VM-FEX is the operation simplicity because both environment, virtual and physical, can be managed with the same tools and same networking administrators. However, another interesting advantage is the improved performance because SR-IOV functionality, enabled into the virtual platform, offers near-bare-metal performance for virtual workloads.

Finally, the Cisco Virtual Networking solution Cisco Nexus 1000V Series extends networking functions to the hypervisor layer. This solution has two components. The Virtual Ethernet Module (VEM), which is a software line card connected to each virtual machine, and the Virtual Supervisor Module (VSM), which is the management module for controlling multiple VEMs. This solution has lots of advantages, like VM-FEX does, but I think the main advantage is the hardware requirements because Cisco Nexus 1000V Series is a software solution while VM-FEX required dedicated hardware.

Cisco Nexus VEM and VSM Components
 
That’s all my friends. Two Cisco Virtual Networking solutions for your portfolio. Keep learning and keep studying!!

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