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Improving the usability of network virtualization and management in a clustered switch architecture with IEEE 802.1Qbg technology

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000235884D
Publication Date: 2014-Mar-28
Document File: 4 page(s) / 60K

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The IP.com Prior Art Database


IEEE 802.1Qbg technology can be used inside a clustered switch architecuture to simplify managing network virtualization.

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Improving the usability of network virtualization and management in a clustered switch architecture with IEEE 802.1Qbg technology

In clustered switching architecture, which is becoming popular and being supported by many different data center switch vendors these days, multiple access/edge switches are connected to a pair of ToR (Top-of-Rack) switches. All the switches together act as a single stack or a single cluster, so that it appears to be a single big switch from the manageability perspective. All the management operations are handled by one of the ToR switches, while the other ToR switch acts as a backup or standby switch for the master ToR switch. The edge switches themselves act as unmanaged switches, i.e. management of edge switches happens through the master ToR switch. The edge switches act like remote line cards to the ToR switches, so that the access ports on each of the edge switch appear as ports on the ToR switches.

On the other hand, there are technologies that try to simplify network virtualization. One such technology is EVB (Edge Virtual Bridging) defined by IEEE 802.1Qbg standard, which is targeted at normal data center networking, and not just only at clustered switching architectures. In IEEE 802.1Qbg technology, as a VM migrates from one host to another, the new edge switch automatically provisions the network characteristics required for the VM, as defined by its VSI (Virtual Station Interface) Type. All VSI Type definitions are stored in a central VSI Type repository, which is also known as VSI Database.

IEEE 802.1Qbh/BR is another technology that is targeted at simplifying network virtualization, specifically in a clustered switching architecture. This technology makes it possible to percolate the virtual NICs of the VMs all the way upto the top-tier switches, so that the virtual NICs of the VMs (Virtual Machines) appear alongside the physical ports on the top-tier switch. This blurs the difference between a virtual port and a physical port from the manageability perspective and makes management of virtual ports easy.

There are a couple of important but subtle differences between IEEE 802.1Qbg and IEEE 802.1Qbh/BR technologies.

(a) In IEEE 802.1Qbh/BR based switching architecture, inter-VM traffic always goes upto the top-tier switch and then gets switched there. This provides visibility into the inter-VM traffic at the top-tier hardware switches, so that sophisticated policies can be applied on that traffic. Whereas, in IEEE 802.1Qbg based switching architecture, inter-VM traffic visibility is achieved in by enabling the VEPA (Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator) feature in the hypervisor and by enabling EVB feature in the edge switch. With this, the hypervisor's vSwitch forwards all traffic to the adjacent switch instead of directly switching it locally, even for traffic between two VMs on the same hypervisor. Further, the traffic between different VMs in the same host, or between VMs in different hyper...