After the commentary on vCider was published earlier in March, a representative of ConteXtream reached out to discuss their take on network virtualization and how it is a "must-have" for highly virtualized environments. The company has developed an innovative, highly scalable and manageable take on network virtualization.
What is network virtualization
Network virtualization refers to tools used to present an artificial view of the network environment. Network virtualization often is supported by network routers, network servers, and the like. Systems executing the organization’s applications and workloads may not know this is happening. Client systems and server systems just see the network as presented by those network resources.
Often this technology is used to make it possible to dynamically change the network topology without having to visit each network router to change its configuration files. It is also often used to segment networks into smaller sub networks to increase levels of security and reduce management complexity.
This approach may be called "software-defined networking" or "grid networking."
What is ConteXtream doing?
Here's how ConteXtream describes their approach:
ConteXtream Grid solution forms a software abstraction layer on top of traditional networks, creating an any-to-any network grid. This, in turn, enables a global and highly scalable platform for network virtualization of the edge, core and data center.
Unlike point virtualization solutions that attempt to hide a specific function of the network, the ConteXtream Grid solution provides a holistic distributed control fabric that can support wide-ranging, unpredictable levels of traffic.
To propagate endpoint information, the ConteXtream Grid uses a Distributed Hash Table (DHT), a mechanism that has been proven to scale extremely well in consumer services environments. The ConteXtream Grid uses the same concept to share endpoint information across all grid nodes, thus it can build an enormous flat network overcoming the limitations of a flooding-based address resolution mechanism. The overlay abstraction layer formed by the grid nodes allows mobility of users, VMs, content or any other end-point while maintaining consistent policies across the network.
Network virtualization offers a numer of important benefits including the following:
- Network bandwidth can be applied in ways that improve performance of critical business workloads.
- New network technology can be adopted without creating problems for existing networks.
- Network security can be enhanced by allowing systems to only see and communicate with specific network partners.
- As virtual resources migrate from host to host or from data center to data center, configuration settings inside of virtual and physical servers need not be changed. The network they see would stay the same while the physical infrastructure underneath adapted to the new location of virtual resources.
In short, organizations that are taking the journey to a more virtualized environment would be very wise to deploy network virtualization tools as well as processing virtualization and storage virtualization.
ConteXtream is offering a very innovative approach to creating and maintaining virtual networks. Their tools can be utilized to improve efficiency, reliability, and overall performance of networks for medium and large enterprise. I'd recommend seeing a demonstration of ConteXtream's approach.
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