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VMworld 2012: Five virtualization networking releases

At VMworld 2012 network pros didn't get the Nicira news they hoped for, but they did see some interesting virtualization networking technologies.

Let's face it, when it comes to networking news, VMworld 2012 attendees wanted to hear details about Nicira technology integration. VMware didn't give that up, but there were interesting virtualization networking announcements at the show from a range of network switching and services vendors. Most of these releases focused on integrating the VXLAN tunneling protocol with switches, fabric technologies and application controllers in order to provide management within overlay networks. Here are five virtualization networking releases from VMworld 2012 that stood out to us.

Brocade weaves load balancing into the virtual cloud network

At VMworld 2012, Brocade announced support for VXLAN in its Brocade ADX Series application delivery switches. The aim is to draw load balancing and application optimization capabilities into the virtualized cloud network.

VXLAN is a network overlay protocol that aims to provision and manage thousands of VLANs by creating a virtual network that is separate from the physical one. But VXLAN traffic must be routed onto the Internet and onto non-virtual network components, such as firewalls and load balancers. Brocade's VXLAN endpoints aim to do just that. In addition, because these gateways are built into the ADX, load balancing can be applied to the VXLAN traffic.

Ultimately, the goal of the Brocade VXLAN gateway, which was developed in partnership with VMware, is to support multitenancy in the cloud network with load balancing services for both virtual and physical resources.

A Broadcom switch chip made ready for network virtualization

Broadcom showcased a soon-to-be-released Ethernet switch chip at VMworld 2012. The new chip, with the Trident II ASIC, aims to provide the kind of scale necessary to support both physical and virtual network traffic at once, as well as converged storage networks. According to Broadcom, Trident II will enable more than 100, 10 GbE ports from a single chip, making it capable of supporting 10 and 40 GbE switching environments, and enabling it to handle any-to-any traffic on a flat, converged cloud network. Beyond speed, Broadcom said network virtualization support is ingrained in the chip. The ASIC includes a feature called Smart-NV, which includes intelligence for Layer 2 over Layer 3 tunneling protocols VXLAN and NVGRE. Other features include Smart Buffer, which promises up to 5x high packet buffering, and Smart Hash, which provides traffic visibility for diagnostics in software-defined networks. Broadcom has not announced a release date yet.

Avaya integrates VXLAN support and top-of-rack fabric

Avaya announced several network virtualization capabilities, including support for the network overlay protocol VXLAN developed in part by VMware within the company's VENA Fabric Connect. Fabric Connect enables every link on the network to be managed from the edge as one. Now Layer 2 over Layer 3 tunneling using VXLAN can be extended from within that fabric.

Avaya also unveiled a new top-of-rack (ToR) virtual backplane technology, the VENA Distributed ToR (dToR) solution, that will enable engineers to link together all of its ToR switches to manage hundreds of nodes and thousands of virtual machines as a single network. Running on the Avaya Virtual Services Platform (VSP) 7000, the dToR aims to provide agility for a fast and flat virtual backplane.

Avaya also announced a new infrastructure in partnership with EMC and VMware for the so-called "collaborative cloud," which combines virtualized storage, compute and networking to provide a cloud environment for real-time collaboration applications, such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). As part of the solution, customers will buy Avaya Collaboration Pods that will include the company's newly announced ToR Ethernet switching platform.

Riverbed extends application performance apps for the virtualized networks

Riverbed announced a series of new products and upgrades that aim to ensure application performance in virtualized networks by extending management and optimization methods into the software-defined data center network and wireless area network (WAN).

Riverbed's Cascade portfolio will include an application-aware network performance management tool for software-defined networks and virtualized data centers that will monitor and manage across both physical and VXLAN overlay networks. Riverbed said the application will look into the "blind spots" that can be created in encapsulated traffic on an overlay network. Riverbed and VMware are collaborating on the development of a new VXLAN-aware Internet Protocol Flow Information Export (IPFIX) format that will enable network and application monitoring, troubleshooting and reporting across virtual and physical networks.

Radware and VMware team up for cloud application provisioning

Radware will integrate its application delivery controller (ADC) with VMware vFabric Application Director to build the foundation for a hybrid cloud provisioning solution, the companies announced at VMworld 2012.

The combined technologies will enable users to create blueprints of application deployment topologies across private, public and hybrid clouds. Engineers can then use a drag-and-drop interface to provision virtualized applications across the cloud. Users of VMware's vFabric Application Director can also automatically provision Radware's ADC component for virtual data centers, which provides a host of application optimization and delivery features.

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