First came virtual servers, then virtual storage. Now a network equipment maker says it will soon offer improved technology for making virtual networks support multi-tenancy.

Virtual networks aren’t new, but most equipment makers do it through an overlay on top of the existing network.

Brocade Communications Systems says its VCS virtual fabric will be improved in a few months to do the same natively through its VDX switches.

As a result enterprises and cloud service providers can offer multi-tenancy – dividing the data centre and network up into partitions for divisions or customers – more easily.

“We see that as a major trend with the data centre moving towards dense multi-tenancy,” said Martin McNeals, Brocade’s senior director for data centre products.

It was one of several announcements including new VDX 6740 and 7640T 10/40 GbE top of rack switches and an upcoming and more powerful Vyatta 5600 virtual router.

The VCS software improvement will allow customers with Brocade VDX switches to support thousands of subscribers or customers on one network fabric, McNeals said.

“For service providers, their profitability directly correlates to the number of customers they can support on a common infrastructure,” he said. Enterprises could segment the network for branches or divisions.

The software is expected to ship to customers and be included in new Brocade switches in November.

The Vyatta 5600 vRouter is a follow-on to the model 5400 built to handle the increasing number of servers equipped with 10 Gigabit network interface cards, said James Kwon, Brocade’s director of product management.

In tests using small packets, the 5600 handled 14.5 million packets per second per CPU core compared to 1 million pps of the 5400, he said. It’s done by separating the control plane from data plane and using a packet pipeline architecture.

It works like a network processor, Kwon said, but on an Intel CPU architecture. As a result when a packets goes through a server it has the total dedication of the CPU, including the L1 and L2 cache.

That means, for example, in an off-the-shelf 16 core 2U server, administrators could allocate two cores for the control plane and 14 cores for the data plane and get getting 14 by 10 Gpbs line rate.

Also, the unicast routing protocol in the control plane has been upgraded so it will scale better.

Because of the power of the 5600, it can do Layer 3 routing in the server for deployments that have limited Layer 3 capabilities, Kwon said.

These were strong announcements for Brocade, said industry analyst Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research.

First the 5600 vRouter allows Brocade’s virtual fabric to be extended outside the data centre, he said.  Almost all other software defined networking vendors focus on implementing SDNs and network virtualization in the data center only, he said. But the vRouter can extend the virtual network between data centers and out to the branch.

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