Extreme Networks Virtualization Architecture to Support VMware Environments

Extreme Networks, in partnership with Exar, is expanding the reach of its Direct Attach architecture to support VMware deployments. The two will demo the solution at VMworld.

When Extreme Networks officials first introduced their Direct Attach virtualized networking architecture at the Interop 2010 show in April, they demonstrated the offering using the Linux-based KVM virtualization technology.

That was fine for the demonstration, but wouldn't work if the company wanted to rapidly expand the adoption of its Direct Attach architecture, according to Shehzad Merchant, senior director of strategy for Extreme.

"A lot of our customers, not surprisingly, run on VMware [virtualization technology], and don't use KVM," Merchant said in an interview with eWEEK.

Extreme Networks announced Aug. 26 that, through a partnership with Exar, the Direct Attach offering now supports VMware environments. The companies will demonstrate this new capability at the VMworld 2010 show, which starts Aug. 30 in San Francisco.

Direct Attach is part of a larger data center strategy that Extreme officials announced in December 2009. The company is looking to make it easier for businesses to make the transition from traditional physical data centers to virtualized facilities and then onto cloud computing environments.

At the heart of the transition is the network, according to Extreme.

The data center solution that Extreme and Exar will demonstrate at VMworld includes Extreme's Summit X650 top-of-rack switch and Exar's X3100 10 Gigabit Ethernet NIC (network interface card).

Extreme Networks' Direct Attach architecture is designed to take the server-based virtual switch out of the equation. Using the NIC, Extreme is able to bypass the virtual switch in the VMware hypervisor, Merchant said. By eliminating the virtual switch tier, Extreme is able to help businesses reduce cost and latency, enhance security in the virtualized network and simplify management, he said.

The virtual switches are performance bottlenecks in the virtualized environments, Merchant said. They're also management headaches for businesses, given the number of different virtual switch technologies that are offered on the market. Through Direct Attach, all virtual machine traffic is visible to the network, which offers greater SLA compliance, security and traffic management, according to the company.

Merchant said that the partnership with Exar is only the first with a NIC provider. Once the Direct Attach offering for VMware environments gets up and running, Extreme will add NIC products from other vendors, he said.