One of the biggest challenges associated with virtualization is managing all the interconnections between various virtual machines. To solve this issue, IT organizations typically deploy virtual switches on a server that manage all the interactions between the virtual machine on the server and the switches that exist on the physical network.
The issue that IT organizations get into with virtual switches, however, is that it makes the folks who manage servers responsible for managing switching functions that are typically handled by a network manager. That may have some upside in terms of reducing the number of IT specialists needed inside the data center, but it also asks people who primarily have server expertise to also become network managers.
Extreme Networks at the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas this week outlined a different approach to managing virtual switches. Shehzad Merchant, director of strategy for Extreme Networks, says the more natural thing for an IT organization to do is to extend the existing management frameworks it uses to manage switches to also manage virtual switches. To that end, Extreme Networks is outlining an approach that will leverage an emerging 802.1Qbg standard, also known as Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator (VEPA), to accomplish just that.
Merchant says this standard will ultimately improve virtual server performance by offloading virtual switch management and make it easier for IT organizations to take on the challenges associated with data center convergence at their own pace and in their own way. He's probably right in that the organizational challenges associated with data center convergence are immense. So anything that allows IT organizations to take those challenges on in a more evolutionary manner should ultimately prove beneficial.