The project's stated goal is "to build a production quality switch for VM environments that supports standard management interfaces (e.g. NetFlow, RSPAN, ERSPAN, IOS-like CLI), and is open to programmatic extension and control."
What's interesting about an open source virtual switch is that it could be the answer for a number of hardware OEMs who want to provide their own feature-rich virtual switch for use in their own products. This could also be a way for Cisco competitors to go after the network giant collectively, rather than attempting to go at them individually with their own offerings. Like other virtualization technologies, an open source virtual switch such as this would also abstract away the underlying hardware and provide organizations with a way to avoid vendor lock-in.
In addition to being an open source technology, the Open vSwitch also differentiates itself by supporting multiple virtualization technologies. It is the default vSwitch in the latest Xen Cloud Platform (a complete cloud infrastructure platform with a powerful management stack based on open, standards-based APIs). It also supports open source Xen, XenServer, KVM, and VirtualBox virtualization hypervisors. The bulk of the code is written in platform-independent C, and is therefore easily ported to other environments.
In a short period of time, the group has made a lot of progress. It was just over a week ago that the Open vSwitch project announced a 1.0.0 release with support for the following new features and enhancements:
- Visibility into inter-virtual machine communication via NetFlow, sFlow(R), SPAN, and RSPAN
- Standard 802.1Q VLAN model with trunking
- Per-virtual machine policing
- NIC bonding with source-MAC load balancing
- Support for OpenFlow
- Ethernet over GRE
- Compatibility layer for the Linux bridging code
- Kernel and user-space forwarding engine options
Looking ahead, the group has a few other tricks up its sleeve for the virtual switch. As part of the road map, other ideas being tossed around include:
- Full L3 support (with NAT)
- More management interfaces (IOS-like CLI, SNMP, NETCONF)
- Support for hardware acceleration (VMDQ, switching chips on SR-IOV NICs)
If things continue to progress and advance in this way, the media might have to eventually start talking about network virtualization much the same way it talks about storage, desktop, or server virtualization today. Network virtualization will no longer have to live in the shadows, ashamed.
For more information, check out the Open vSwitch project.
This article, "Open vSwitch releases 1.0.0 open source, multilayer virtual switch" was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Marshall's Virtualization Report blog and follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com.