Cisco Building Virtual Switch for Microsoft Hyper-V

Cisco is building virtual switch technology for Microsoft's upcoming Hyper-V release.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Sep 20, 2011
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VMware currently dominates the world of virtualization, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other virtualization vendors.

Cisco this week announced a new partnership with Microsoft to deliver the Nexus 1000V virtual switch and the Virtual Machine Fabric Extender (VM-FEX) for Hyper-V environments. The effort is not for currently shipping version of Windows Server, but rather is for the upcoming Windows Server 8, which is still in development.

The Nexus 1000v was first announced back in 2008 for VMware. The 1000v is a virtual switch for virtual machine traffic.

"Really this is a testament to the integration that we're bringing together into the Hyper-V environment for Windows Server 8 next year," Prashant Gandhi, senior director product marketing said.

As to why Cisco has chosen to wait for Server 8 instead of making a version of its virtual switch available for current versions of Hyper-V, it has to do with new capabilities coming from Microsoft. Gandhi said that Server 8 will include a new Hyper-V extensibility framework that benefits switching.

"The extensibility is richer and more flexible than it has been in the past," Gandhi said. "So we decided to leverage that versus offering a solution in the existing environment."

The Nexus 1000v implementation for Hyper-V will be able to handle traffic that comes in from outside to the server environment. As well, it can handle traffic within a server across different virtual machines.

"So it can provide control and visibility across what we call North/South traffic, physical to virtual, and then East/West, virtual to virtual," Gandhi said.

Gandhi noted that Cisco does not currently have a bundling program in place with Microsoft for the Nexus 1000v, though it does have one with VMware. Cisco is currently working bringing the Hyper-V focused products into a private beta now, while the full solution is not set to be generally available until 2012.

Cisco supports multiple virtualization environments including VMware and KVM with its networking technologies. When it comes to enabling solutions across the different hypervisors, Gandhi said that Cisco is aiming for a consistent usability experience.

From a management perspective, Gandhi noted that customers typically have their hypervisor management systems provided by the hypervisor vendor. The Cisco approach is to be able to integrate into the hypervisor vendor system while at the same time enabling the network team to write policies.

"Today we provide the 1000v integrated into VMware environments and we will be doing a similar integration with the Microsoft virtual management tools," Gandhi said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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