Technology Short Take #15

Welcome to Technology Short Take #15, the latest in my irregular series of posts on various articles and links on networking, servers, storage, and virtualization—everything a growing data center engineer needs!

Networking

My thoughts this time around are pretty heavily focused on VXLAN, which continues to get lots of attention. I talked about posting a dissection of VXLAN, but I have failed miserably; fortunately, other people smarter than me have stepped up to the plate. Here are a few VXLAN-related posts and articles I’ve found over the last couple of weeks:

  • There is a three-part series over at Coding Relic that does a great job of explaining VXLAN, the components of VXLAN, and how it works. Here are the links to the series: part 1, part 2, and part 3. One note of clarification: in part 3 of the series, Denny talks about a VTEP gateway. Right now, the VTEP gateway is the server itself; anytime a packet on a VXLAN-enabled network leaves the physical server to go to a different physical server, it will be VXLAN-encapsulated. It won’t be decapsulated until it hits the destination VTEP (the ESXi server hosting the destination VM). If (when?) VXLAN awareness hits physical switches, then the possibility of a VTEP gateway existing outside the server exists. Personally, it kind of makes sense—to me, at least—to build VTEP gateway functionality into vShield Edge.
  • Some people aren’t quite so enamored with VXLAN; one such individual is Greg Ferro. I respect Greg a great deal, so it was interesting to me to read his article on why VXLAN is “full of fail”. Some of his comments are only slightly related to VXLAN (the rant over IEEE vs. IETF, for example), but Greg’s comment about VMware building a new standard instead of “leveraging the value of networking infrastructure” echoes some of my own thoughts. I understand that VXLAN accomplishes things that existing standards apparently do not, but was a new standard really necessary?
  • Omar Sultan of Cisco took the time to compile some questions and answers about VXLAN. One thing that is made more clear—for me, at least—in Omar’s post is the fact that VXLAN doesn’t address connectivity to the vApps from the “outside” world. While VXLAN provides a logical isolated network segment that can span multiple Layer 3 networks and allow applications to communicate with each other, VXLAN doesn’t address the Layer 3 addressing that must exist outside the VXLAN tunnel. In fact, in my discussions with some of the IETF draft authors at VMworld, they indicated that VXLAN would require a NAT device or a DNS update in order to address changes in externally-accessible applications. This, by the way, is why you’ll still need technologies like OTV and LISP (or their equivalents); see this post for more information on how VXLAN, OTV, and LISP are complementary. If I’m wrong, please feel free to correct me.
  • In case you’re still unclear about the key problem that VXLAN attempts to address, this quote from Ivan Pepelnjak might help (the full article is here):

    VXLAN tries to solve a very specific IaaS infrastructure problem: replace VLANs with something that might scale better. In a massive multi-tenant data center having thousands of customers, each one asking for multiple isolated IP subnets, you quickly run out of VLANs.

  • Finally, you might find this PDF helpful. Ignore the first 13 slides or so; they’re marketing fluff, to be honest. However, the remainder of the slides have some useful information on VXLAN and how it’s expected to be implemented.

Servers

I didn’t really stumble across anything strictly server hardware-related; either I’m just not plugged into the right resources (anyone want to make some recommendations?) or it was just a quiet period. I’ll assume it was the former.

Storage

Virtualization

  • Did you see this post about new network simulation functionality in VMware Workstation 8?
  • Here’s a good walk-through on setting up vMotion across multiple network interfaces.
  • VMware vSphere Design co-author Maish Saidel-Keesing has a post here on how to approximate the functionality of netstat on ESXi.
  • William Lam has a “how to” on installing the VMware VSA with running VMs.
  • Fellow vSpecialist Andre Leibovici did a write-up on a proof of concept that the vSpecialists did for a customer involving Vblock, VPLEX, and VDI. This was a pretty cool use case, in my opinion, and worth having a look if you need to design a highly available environment.
  • Thinking about playing with vShield 5? That’s a good idea, but check here to learn from the mistakes of others first. You’ll thank me later.
  • The question of defragmenting guest OS disks has come up again and again; here’s the latest take from Cormac Hogan of VMware. He makes some great points, but I suspect that this question is still far from settled.

It’s time to wrap up now; I hope that you found something useful. As always, thanks for reading! Feel free to share your views or thoughts in the comments below.

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4 comments

  1. EtherealMind’s avatar

    Hi Scott

    Thanks for mentioning my blog.

    Packet Pushers will be releasing a podcast on VXLAN on 7 October. I spoke with Ken Duda and Ivan Pepelnjak on why VXLAN works, what features and capabilities it has. Ken also co-authored the NVGRE standard from Microsoft, so had some discussion on that as well.

    Ivan is pro-VXLAN, I’m not, and Ken makes several good points about how it might work out in the industry e.g. the control/signalling plane is still open to new technologies.

    It might be a good listen for those interested in VXLAN.

    greg

  2. slowe’s avatar

    Greg, thanks for the update! I look forward to the VXLAN-focused podcast to expand my knowledge of the proposed new approach.

  3. Ivan Pepelnjak’s avatar

    For the record: VXLAN is the least horrible way to implement totally isolated virtual segments.

    I’m still waiting for VXLAN physical device termination, a decent VXLAN control plane, and a shipping L3 hypervisor switch (that Amazon had for years).

  4. Denton Gentry’s avatar

    Excellent set of links about VXLAN. I’d seen some of them, but not all.

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