Three days ago IBM launched Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V, its own distributed vSwitch for VMware ESX platform. On one hand, it proves Cisco has been going the right way with Nexus 1000V (just in case you wondered), on the other hand, things just got way more interesting – IBM is obviously returning to networking.
The feature list of the DVS 5000V is not impressive (bonus point: unlike vSwitch it does include LACP), and it sure looks like a me-too product, until you come to EVB support. Not having anything to lose by implementing standards favored by other vendors, IBM jumped head-on into technology that makes the most sense if you believe VLANs are the way to go when implementing virtual networks.
IBM already has EVB/VEPA support for KVM.
You still need two to tango – EVB support in the hypervisor doesn’t buy you anything unless it’s also implemented in the adjacent switch, and it’s not clear yet which ToR switch you could use. Force10 announced EVB support way before they were bought by Dell and hasn’t delivered yet, HP is promising EVB for years (with no visible results, although HP 5900 is supposedly VEPA-ready), and I couldn’t find anything EVB-related in the specs for IBM’s BNT switches.
There might be an interesting twist in this story. You don’t have to implement EVB in the ToR switches if you’re using OpenFlow. EVB is a control-plane-only protocol and thus a perfect fit for a software module in an OpenFlow controller. We know IBM and NEC are working together on proving OpenFlow is ready for enterprise networks... looks like we have a few very interesting years ahead of us.
Need more information?
Introduction to Virtualized Networking webinar has a pretty self-descriptive name, as does VMware Networking Deep Dive and Data Center Fabric Architectures. All three of them are available as part of the yearly subscription.