Extreme Networks Improves Virtualization Efficiency, Performance

At the Interop show later this month, Extreme Networks will introduce two new products, Extreme XNV and Direct Attach architecture, that are designed to improve the performance and efficiency of virtualized infrastructures, while simplifying the management.

Extreme Networks will bring two new pieces of their virtualized data center strategy to the Interop 2010 show in Las Vegas, which starts April 25.

Extreme will show off its Extreme XNV virtualization lifecycle management offering and its new Direct Attach data center architecture that is designed to let virtual machines be directly attached to the network, which will help reduce network tiers in the data center and increase performance and scalability.

The products, which will be available in the third quarter, are part of Extreme's larger data center strategy that officials announced in December 2009. The initiative is designed to help businesses more easily make the transition from traditional physical data center infrastructures to more virtualized environment and onto cloud computing.

A key to the transition is the networking infrastructure, according to Shehzad Merchant, senior director of strategy for Extreme.

"We want to provide all the building blocks to allow [businesses] to make the transition at their own pace and without stranding any of their resources," Merchant said in an interview.

Extreme in January rolled out two new high-end switches as part of the larger strategy. The BlackDiamond 8900-xl modules and Summit X480 stackable switches will bring the performance and scalability necessary for highly virtualized infrastructures, according to company officials.

XNV brings virtual machine lifecycle management to Extreme's ExtremeOS operating system and EPICenter network management suite, important capabilities as the number of VMs and virtual switches continues to proliferate in the data center, Merchant said.

"It takes what we can do on the physical platform and brings it to the virtual platform," he said.

XNV also brings network-level control and security to VMs.

An important part of XNV is the use of VPPs (Virtual Port Profiles) that bring network-level profiles to VMs. The VPPs enables IT administrators to track VMs as they move across the network.

With their Direct Attach architecture, Extreme officials are aiming to simplify the management of virtualized environments while increasing network performance.

The goal of the new architecture is to take virtual switches, which traditionally have been embedded in the server, and put them into the network.

Doing so will improve VM switching capabilities-virtual switches embedded in servers can hinder performance and increase complexity-and simplify management by eliminating the virtual switch layer.

"The minute you move VM switches to the network, you don't need those thousands of switches [embedded in the servers]," Merchant said.

With such burgeoning technologies as direct I/O and VEPA (Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator) enabling virtual machine-to-virtual-machine switching in the hardware switching layer, performance is improved, he said.