Extreme Networks has introduced an architecture for data centres that can easily make virtual machines switch back into the network and out of the server. The company's new 'Direct Attach' architecture for data centres can allow virtual machines to be directly attached to the network without having to go through a full layer of software switching in the server.

This new offering is scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2010 via a licensable software module upgrade.

Evolutionary approach

Enterprises using the evolutionary approach of the Direct Attach data centre architecture can greatly simplify management, monitoring and troubleshooting at data centres. They can also improve network performance in highly virtualised data centre environments.

Joe Skorupa, research vice president, data centre and transformation and security, at Gartner, said embedded virtual switches can limit performance and increase complexity even though they have enabled early server virtualisation projects. "Emerging technologies like direct I/O and VEPA allow VM to VM switching to be implemented in hardware in the first physical switch, increasing performance and simplifying management."

Simplifies troubleshooting

Extreme Networks notes that its Direct Attach architecture can move VM switching out of the server and into network switches. In addition to delivering wire-speed, network-based switching to VMs, this architecture can dramatically reduce the number of managed switches through the elimination of the virtual switch layer.

This architecture can also expose inter-VM traffic to traditional, mature and well-understood networking tools, such as ACLs, firewalls and IDS. This can significantly simplify management and troubleshooting, according to the company. Because the new Direct Attach architecture can interoperate with emerging IEEE 8021.Qbg, it provides an easy and seamless migration path for organisations.

Shehzad Merchant, senior director of strategy for Extreme Networks, noted that the company's Direct Attach architecture to virtual machine switching will result in cost and performance benefits for the data centre. "Organisations can now transition their data centre from a physical to a virtual model without fear of being locked into any proprietary technology, realising all the benefits of virtualisation, and eliminating some of the most painful objections."