More companies are implementing virtualized data centers in the cloud to take advantage of flexibility and efficiency of these computing resources at a time when demands for data processing, storage and network bandwidth are growing exponentially.


When the cloud is used as an extension of their enterprise, these users want their hosted cloud network to behave like a traditional network, including layer 2 forwarding and VLAN isolation. This requires cloud providers to implement specialized multi-tenant environments, where each tenant is provided with an isolated virtualized network. Because the cloud data centers must flexibly deploy virtual tenant networks across a physical network that may connect hundreds of thousands of virtual machines, layer 3 tunneling is used to provide these network overlays. But the tunneling protocol must be invisible to the VMs that are acting as if they are simply forwarding layer 2 traffic.


Two new Internet Engineering Task Force* (IETF) draft standard proposals have recently emerged to provide network overlays in these multi-tenant environments. VxLAN is a protocol backed by Cisco* and VMware* among others, and NVGRE is a protocol backed by Microsoft* and others. Each has its plusses and minuses, and you can read the debates going on in the industry regarding which is better.


As part of our Intel Cloud 2015 on-going cloud data center initiative, with particular focus on automation (virtualization), we can support either protocol in our Intel® Ethernet Switch FM6000 Series products. These ICs are designed for top-of-rack switches, which are situated at the right place in the network to support these new tunneling protocols.  Our Intel® Ethernet Switch FM6000 Series devices contain Intel® FlexPipe™ Technology that can be reconfigured to support new and emerging network protocols, and VxLAN and NVGRE are no exception. Here are two examples of this support:


1.   Intel is participating in the Microsoft //Build/ Conference at the end of October, where NVGRE will be demonstrated.

2.   At this week’s VMworld conference, Arista Networks* will talk about their participation in a multi-vendor demo of VxLAN in a keynote address. They will demonstrate the VxLAN protocol running on their new low-latency top of rack switches utilizing Intel Ethernet switch silicon.


We are proud to be working with customers like Arista on these advanced network overlay technologies.