Virtual networking: what (not) to do

It may not be untrue after all that big networking vendors who have made oodles of money from selling hardware, but are now making a big show of supporting software and virtual-based networking, are still actually biased towards hardware.According to Brocade’s Head of Products, Software Networking Business, Ashwin Krishnan, “If you build a business from selling proprietary hardware, you would take what you have, repackage it as a virtual instance and sell it.

Ashwin Krishnan

Ashwin Krishnan

“But the solution is not optimised for the virtual environment at all.”

When not architected correctly, the virtual version of a physical router, would not be able to scale out, or take advantage of the power of additional CPUs.

Ashwin explained, “The virtual solution becomes a little more unattractive because you still need to spec in the hardware.”

He also opined that unless networking vendors actually increase their research and development, and reinvent their portfolio, they are actually just giving other software-based efforts like network function virtualisation and software-defined networking, a bad name.

“It is a big disservice to NFV efforts in the industry. But (we find that) competitors are finding it difficult to make the leap.”

Brocade’s achievements

Ashwin admitted that their own virtual router solution, Vyatta, was not able to take advantage of scale-out hardware – there would be no performance difference even after more processor cores were added.

The Vyatta 5600 that was developed after Brocade acquired it however, is able to.

Intel’s work to drive cost down for every generation of chips that it ships and that has more power, also begs virtual workloads to take advantage of it.

Ashwin opined that Intel has it right by guaranteeing that more cores would mean lower pricing. “But can the software take advantage of it? Software is the only (element) that you have to get absolutely right.”

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