Vyatta vPlane Routes Virtual Traffic

How do you properly network virtual machine traffic? With a virtual forwarding plane, of course.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Apr 23, 2012
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Virtual servers need virtual networking technologies that can deliver cloud scale. That's the driving factor behind the release of a new virtual networking technology called vPlane from networking vendor Vyatta.

With vPlane, networking between virtual machines can be accelerated by optimizing the data path.

"When you had physical networking devices cabled to a physical service with a single app running on it, it was pretty easy to manage the traffic," Kelly Herrell, CEO of Vyatta, told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet. "Now, when you're cabling into a server that has a bunch of different virtual machines on it that require their own traffic attributes, handling that is more complex."

Vyatta's new software is all about extending network functionality into the server. Herrell explained that the new vPlane offering is a Layer 3 forwarding plane for network traffic. With vPlane the forwarding plane and the control plane are separated into separate components. That separation can enable vPlane to deliver over 8 million packets per second (pps) of traffic, according to Herrell.

"We've made a lot of changes to the architecture of the forwarding plane and we've taken out numerous schedulers in [the] data path," Herrell explained. "We've moved to a fast path architecture, which allows us to process the packets at the lowest software layer and use a run-to-completion model that delivers lots of performance."

Vyatta as a company, started out as an attempt to build Linux and open source based networking gear. However, the new vPlane technology is not open source and is all Vyatta's own intellectual property. The underlying Vyatta operating system, however, has its roots in Debian Linux.

The idea of handling virtual traffic with virtual software is not a new one. Cisco has its Nexus 1000v virtual switch and the Open vSwitch is now part of the mainstream Linux kernel. According to Herrell, vPlane is complementary to those efforts as it operates at a different layer in the networking stack. "Those virtual switches are Layer 2 and vPlane is Layer 3 and above."

Overall, Herrell stressed that when it comes to virtualization, enterprises don't want to rip and replace. Rather they are looking for an evolutionary approach to adapting their existing infrastructure to leverage virtualization

"They're not doing it by building out new data center and big brain lobotomies," Herrell said. "They're doing it by extending what they've got and accommodating changes as they come."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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