The Value of Open vswitch, Fabric Connect and Fabric Attach in Enterprise Data Centers

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1 The Value of Open vswitch, Fabric Connect and Fabric Attach in Enterprise Data Centers Table of Contents Enter Avaya Fabric Connect. 2 A typical data center architecture with Avaya SDN Fx... 3 A new way: Fabric Attach... 5 Conclusion... 6 Enterprise Data Center architectures have changed significantly over the past years in light of industry developments such as cloud, data center consolidation, virtualization, software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV), to name just a few. All these trends have elevated the need for increased levels of infrastructure abstraction, virtualization and automation These developments however are a direct result of the need for ever increased business agility in the light of fierce global competition, driving the need for abstraction between the applications supporting users and business processes and the underlying infrastructure. To address these challenges in Data Centers, virtualization platforms such as VMware s ESXi and NSX, Microsoft s Hyper-V, KVM or Xen as well as some network automation tools are being employed to abstract underlying physical infrastructure and increase flexibility and agility. 1 Avaya s SDN Fx is based upon IEEE 802.1ah Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) However, while these approaches can address the immediate need to enable abstraction of the complex infrastructure and specifically the underlying network that is still based on legacy technology, it introduces additional complexity. And unnecessary complexity resulting from legacy technology is undesirable as it affects agility, operation and ultimately cost and reliability (SLA). For this exact reason Avaya s SDN Fx Architecture is based around an innovative and standards based 1 approach that removes the legacy complexity and challenges and as such offers a modern foundation upon which Enterprises can design a modern data center architecture. avaya.com 1

2 Enter Avaya Fabric Connect The core network component of Avaya SDN Fx is Fabric Connect, an innovative implementation of Shortest Path Bridging (SPB), a technology that is comprised of two robust and proven technology components as its foundation: Ethernet and IS-IS. Apart from removing the legacy multi-protocol complexity, Fabric Connect provides a zero-touch, fully automated and virtualized multi-service and multitenant network core. Source: Dynamic Markets (2015) Independent research 2 has confirmed that Avaya Fabric Connect offers faster implementation, configuration, troubleshooting and failover while reducing the risk of human error. 2 Research commissioned by Avaya and conducted by Dynamic Markets in A copy of the report is available at: fabric-connect-customer-experienceresearch-report.pdf avaya.com 2

3 Previously we needed six weeks for network changes; today we can implement them in days. A typical data center architecture with Avaya SDN Fx Typical data center network infrastructure is depicted in the figure below. Albert Knoll, Network Operations Manager, Fujitsu Technology Solutions The key components of most Enterprise Data Centers are 1) Top of Rack (ToR) Switches with usual server access speeds of between 1G and 10G, 2) Spine Switches aggregating the ToR s at between 40G and 100G and 3) the servers and hypervisors. Alternative end of row (EoR) based designs are possible, however less common. In Avaya Fabric Connect environments ToR s can also be interconnected East-West to allow E-W traffic between adjacent racks to flow direct versus loading the spine. Since Fabric Connect is not limited by Spanning Tree, Data Center architects have full topological flexibility and can benefit from the equal cost multipath capabilities to fully load and utilize the available capacity while not being limited by topology. avaya.com 3

4 However, setting up and administering even only the Layer-2 portion of a Data Center network can be complex and cumbersome. Redundant virtual paths using the only 4096 available VLAN s need to be configured loop-free or using Spanning Tree manually and hop-by-hop for every VM a complex task for network teams and error prone. To ensure ease of VM migration all ToR s need similar pre-configurations or software synchronization between the networking device and the VM control system needs to ensure network configurations follow the VM. This consequently requires complex, potentially error prone and expensive software with even more operational overhead. In a Fabric Connect environment much of this complexity is eliminated as the core is automated and can support up to 16 million virtual service networks (VSN s) that need only a single global command to be executed on a single switch to notify all switches in the Fabric of a new VSN. What remains is the configuration of the edge ports on the ToR s which, since VLAN ID s are now local to that port only, means VLAN ID s can be re-used. Fabric Connect very significantly simplifies the DC topology and operation while reducing switchover times in case of failure to sub-second and no longer requiring hop-by-hop configuration. However, edge ports and VLAN s still need to be configured manually or though software such as Avaya s Virtualization Provisioning Service (VPS) for ESXi. avaya.com 4

5 But far from simply laying a virtual architecture atop a plain old network infrastructure, a truly abstract layer will have to be designed from the ground up to accommodate current and expected workloads Arthur Cole. The Many Roads to SDN in the Data Center, July 24th, 2015 A new way: Fabric Attach Having to configure ToR ports manually or using complex orchestration software for hypervisors is undesirable, costly and error prone. Let alone that pre-configuring ports with multiple VLAN s is a potential security breach waiting to happen. Having simplified the core network and automated it Avaya recognized that solving the attach problem through automation in Data Centers but also in the campus with devices such as IP CCTV cameras or Wireless access points would provide immense operational and business benefits. Avaya solved the problem with Fabric Attach, a standards based technology that enables an edge device, be it a virtual machine, a vswitch, a IP CCTV camera, a Wireless access point or even a legacy switch unable to support SPB to automatically attach to a virtual service network (VSN) without human intervention. Fabric Attach, known also as auto-attach in the IEEE terminology, uses simple LLDP messages for the device to request attach to a specific VSN. The Fabric Connect network with the Fabric Attach Server function then ensures compliance with policy and the provisioning as needed. In hypervisor environments this allows a VM in a hypervisor to request an attach to a virtual avaya.com 5

6 service network (VSN) and gain connectivity without any human intervention. If the VSN requested does not exist and policy permits, the VSN can even be created on the fly. Once the VM is moved, the attach process repeats itself, the VSN connectivity moves with the VM. The connectivity gets established at the new ToR location and removed at the original thus simplifying operation and configuration management. In hypervisor environments this is achieved by enabling the Open vswitch (OvS) to perform Fabric Attach (or auto attach in standards terms) 3. As of OvS version 2.4, released in August 2015, the vswitch now supports FA; a submission of this code into OvS was the result of a collaborative effort between the OvS team, Avaya and WindRiver (an Intel company). Conclusion Through Fabric Connect in the core and Fabric Attach at the edge, Avaya has simplified the Data Center and specifically its operation in many ways. From an operational perspective independent research has already proven the benefits of fabric but by extending these benefits to the edge where potentially hundreds of systems are connected, overhead, room for human error and software failures are further reduced. Moreover, the architecture is significantly simplified and networking teams can now focus on policy and architecture by automating the cumbersome and repetitive box-by-box configuration tasks while the server and hypervisor operators have far more freedom to operate within the policy frameworks agreed. With all major distributions picking up OvS 2.4 over the coming months and hyper-scale vendors such as Nutanix, an Avaya partner, aiming to use OvS and Fabric Attach as a means to control networking, storage and compute from a single administrative interface, the solution becomes broadly accessible and benefits tangible. 3 OvS is the default vswitch for Open Source platforms such as KVM or Xen. A port for Hyper-V is available. The ultimate benefit, however, is that the solution can significantly increase business agility and reduce cost no longer is the infrastructure the limiting factor. Now the business can operate in a truly agile manner. avaya.com 6

7 About Avaya Avaya is a leading, global provider of customer and team engagement solutions and services available in a variety of flexible on-premise and cloud deployment options. Avaya s fabric-based networking solutions help simplify and accelerate the deployment of business critical applications and services. For more information, please visit Avaya Inc. All Rights Reserved. Avaya and the Avaya logo are trademarks of Avaya Inc. and are registered in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks identified by, TM, or SM are registered marks, trademarks, and service marks, respectively, of Avaya Inc. 09/15 DN7769 avaya.com 7

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