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According to Gartner, between 2009 and 2010, the number of virtual machines in corporate data centres increased more than 50 percent. Yet the traditional data centre network is not optimally designed for server and desktop virtualisation. From the now mainstream and widespread adoption of server virtualisation, companies are already taking the necessary first steps toward deploying a next-generation data centre switching network, one that is more agile and adaptable to the changing needs of the enterprise. Yet many organisations have not been able to reap all of the benefits of server virtualisation because virtual machine (VM) movement requires manual intervention to modify network provisioning – and dealing with this is the next step towards a virtualised network infrastructure.
It is critical that the network, including the data centre, can accommodate and dynamically adapt to the increasingly demanding workload by building the model that Gartner calls “application fluency”. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has already adopted an application-fluent approach toward architecting the next-generation data centre network, and it is clear that this is the direction that networks need to be taking.
Virtual Machine movement restricting the network
A true data centre fabric will automatically adapt to VM movement to relieve IT of the burden of manually provisioning the network. This way, data centre networks can adapt to the higher bandwidth requirements of media-rich applications such as video while supporting server and desktop virtualisation, and take the next important steps in providing true application fluency across the network.
Monitoring inter-VM communications can be a huge challenge, due to lack of visibility of inter-VM traffic in the network. And as the number of virtual machines on a single server can be scaled from 8-12 VMs today to say 32-64 in the near future, the need to secure virtual machines from external threats, becomes a serious consideration.
The solution: a VEPA
A VEPA in effect takes all the traffic generated from virtual machines on a server and moves it out to an external network switch. The external network switch in turn provides connectivity between the virtual machines on the same physical server as well as to the rest of the network infrastructure.
The VEPA therefore makes all VM traffic visible to the external network switch. And by moving VM switching back into the physical network, a VEPA based approach makes existing network tools and processes work consistently across both virtualised and non-virtualised environments.
Application Fluency is key
A Low Latency and a lossless Ethernet Data Centre fabric to make sure the VM Motion is transparent between the Switching Layer and the application Server / VM.
VEPA enables a single point of management and control
As a consequence, the VEPA-based approach has the promise of being able to scale up virtualisation deployments, reduce complexity and cost, and speed up the adoption of virtualisation.
Enabling an open switching market
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