At PLUMgrid we’ve been pioneering virtual networking for over two years with the basic assumptions that the ideal solution for creating programmable networks independent of physical network infrastructure would require:

1. An open platform for complete L2-L7 capabilities
2. An I/O hypervisor independent from a server hypervisor
3. A fully distributed data plane

What we launched in June of this year was a first of its kind virtual networking platform capable of all of these things.  While we’ve published many deep dive blogs individually on these topics, I thought I’d use this blog to focus on the WHY, more than the HOW…

Why an Open Platform Matters:
While the cloud solutions ecosystem has been rapidly evolving, the networking solutions ecosystem is slowly picking up steam again.  As cloud redefines datacenter architectures and pushes complex networking requirements down into the virtual machine layer we are seeing traditional networking vendors deliver functionality deeper down into the application stack.  These best-of-breed network vendors are designed in to existing datacenter topologies because they meet well-defined security and traffic management requirements.

Where virtual networking needs to provide a complete network stack (switching, routing, firewall, load balancing etc.), it should not aim to replace physical networking but should provide the ability to easily abstract and include any network function (L2-L7), not just layer 2 switching.  PLUMgrid works with many best of breed network vendors to enable distributed functionality including A10 Networks, Arista Networks, Check Point Software Technologies, Citrix NetScaler, Cumulus Networks, F5 Networks, Palo Alto Networks and Silver Peak. – See more at: http://plumgrid.com/partners/technology-partners/

Hypervisors for Servers – IO visor for Networks
Server virtualization methods are designed to abstract physical server resources and manage resource utilization of their physical hosts.  To effectively create a network abstraction without impacting network and server response times, a new network specific hypervisor or abstraction layer (PLUMgrid IO visor) is required.  Where a hypervisor enables the creation and management of Virtual Machines, an IO visor should enable the creation and management of Virtual Domains.

Hypervisor IOVisor PLUMgrid

The PLUMgrid IO Visor is a revolutionary fully-virtualized IO engine designed from the ground up for data plane networking functions to be developed, loaded and instantiated at run-time.  PLUMgrid IO Visor gets deployed in the hypervisor of each Data Center server providing a Virtual Fabric Overlay and the ability to dynamically provision Virtual Domains with a rich set of fully distributed Network Functions on top. – See more at: http://plumgrid.com/technology/

 

Distributed Network Functionality is required for Scale
The scalability of early attempts at SDN and the OpenFlow protocol are being called into question lately for their ability to meet the needs of a modern datacenter. The PLUMgrid approach has always been to avoid reliance on unproven architectures and non-standard protocols while building an open platform for virtualizing the network.  By eliminating the need for a centralized controller in our original product design and focusing on enabling direct communication between control plane and data plane, the PLUMgrid platform avoids any scalability and performance problems while offering complete isolation and traffic management in a contained environment.

Plumgrid platform

The who, when and why of SDN and OpenFlow are irrelevant in the PLUMgrid virtual network infrastructure product design.  By building an open platform with rest-based APIs and an SDK, PLUMgrid has designed a system that can natively deliver fully distributed network functions (PLUMgrid or 3rd Party) as part of the IO visor data plane.  All network services can now be made available on any server enabling the creation of complex logical network designs where every packet sent or received from a virtual machine can be inspected, routed and secured within the server without impacting the physical network. Additionally, these logical virtual networks can be migrated at will along with their assigned workloads.

As vendor strategies shift between SDN, OpenFlow, virtual networking and network function virtualization (NFV), PLUMgrid has taken an independent platform approach that easily meets the network agility and extensibility needs of the cloud datacenter.
PLUMgrid is out spreading the word about Virtual Network Infrastructure!  Catch us at:
VMworld San Francisco Booth #2035
IEEE Hot Interconnects
OpenStack Summit – Vote for our proposed sessions