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2Oct/12Off

Cisco drops price on Nexus vSwitch to free

I saw news yesterday that Cisco dropped the price of their vSwitch to $free, they still have a premium version which has a few more features.

I'm really not all that interested in what Cisco does, but what got me thinking again is the lack of participation by other vendors in making a similar vSwitch, of integrating their stack down to the hypervisor itself.

Back in 2009, Arista Networks launched their own vSwitch (though now that I read more on it, it wasn't a "real" vSwitch),  but you wouldn't know that by looking at their site today, I tried a bunch of different search terms I thought they still had it, but it seems the product is dead and buried. I have not heard myself of any other manufacturers making a software vSwitch of any kind (for VMware at least). I suppose customer demand is not there.

I asked Extreme back then if they would come out with a software vSwitch, and at the time at least they said there was no plans, instead they were focusing on direct attach, a strategy at least for VMware, appears to be dead for the moment, as the manufacturer of the NICs used to make it happen is no longer making NICs(as of about 1-2 years ago). I don't know why they have the white paper on their site still, I guess to show the concept, since you can't build it today.

Direct attach - at least taken to it's logical conclusion is a method to force all inter-VM switching out of the host and into the physical switches layer. I was told that this is possible with Extreme(and possibly others too) with KVM today (I don't know the details), just not with VMware.

They do have a switch that runs in VMware, though it's not a vSwitch, more of a demo/type thing where you can play with commands. Their switching software has run on Intel CPUs since the initial release in 2003 (and they still have switches today that use Intel CPUs), so I imagine the work involved is not herculean to make a vSwitch happen if they wanted to.

I have seen other manufacturers (Brocade at least if I remember right) that were also looking forward to direct attach as the approach to take instead of a vSwitch. I can never remember the official networking name for the direct attach technology...

With VMware's $1.2B purchase of Nicira it seems they believe the future is not direct attach.

Myself I like the concept of switching within the host, though I have wanted to have an actual switching fabric (in hardware) to make it happen. Some day..

Off topic - but it seems the global economic cycle has now passed the peak and now for sure headed down hill? One of my friends said yesterday the economy is "complete garbage", I see tech company after company missing or warning, layoffs abound, whether it's massive layoffs at HP, or smaller layoffs at Juniper that was announced this morning. Meanwhile the stock market is hitting new highs quite often.

I still maintain we are in a great depression. Lots of economists try to dispute that, though if you take away the social safety nets that we did not have in the '20s and '30s during the last depression I am quite certain you'd see massive numbers of people lined up at soup kitchens and the like. I think the economists try to dispute it more because they fear a self fulfilling prophecy rather than their willingness to have a serious talk on the subject. Whether or not we can get out of the depression, I don't know. We need a catalyst - last time it was WWII, at least the last two major economic expansions were bubbles, it's been a long time since we've had a more normal economy. If we don't get a catalyst then I see stagnation for another few years, perhaps a decade while we drift downwards towards a more serious collapse (something that would make 2008 look trivial by comparison).

TechOps Guy: Nate

Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Your switching fabric comments reminded me of a recent Rayonstorage blog entry about storage hypervisors – http://silvertonconsulting.com/blog/2012/08/14/data-hypervisor/

  2. As the old joke goes, it’s not a Depression until economists lose their own jobs.

  3. That is an interesting post on storage hypervisors, thanks for the link! I think to some extent vmware is trying to address that particular issue, or at least move intelligence more into the hypervisor. I had some discussions last week on where they are headed with their VVOLs(tried finding a good link to post on it but came up empty), a topic I’ve only seen a few brush on in the past year I guess because it’s still a ways from being realized. It sounds pretty cool though, and am sure once the core infrastructure is in place other hypervisors will have the same ability to exploit those hooks in storage that VMware is helping put in, assuming they want to of course.

    It’s not an independent abstraction layer of course, so it is dependent upon each storage company adding the support for the technology, with storage as complex and fragile as it is, I can’t imagine a company developing such an independent abstraction layer that could use any storage, even the big abstraction layers that are available at the high end whether it is SVC, or VSP or to a lesser extent I think VPLEX are limited in scope compared to what the author of that blog would like to see. But it is an interesting vision for sure!

    thanks for the posts!!


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