Data centers are facing growth challenges as the demand for cloud computing services expands rapidly. Network expansion has been a consistent obstacle to meeting these demands head-on.
Virtual scalable LANs (VXLANs) enable organizations to address these scalability requirements, even for large, increasingly complex cloud deployments, such as those commonly found in data centers. VXLAN is a promising advancement in network virtualization technology, especially for data centers that need to rapidly expand their networks to keep pace with demand.
As more providers and standardization support VXLAN, deployment and operation become much easier. Data center administrators can look at VXLANs for network deployment and connect networks at scale between data centers.
What is VXLAN?
VXLAN aims to help network engineers scale and extend their cloud computing environment by running overlay networks on their existing infrastructure.
An overlay network is a virtual network built on top of network layer 2 and layer 3 technologies. Virtual LANs (VLANs) use a similar overlay encapsulation protocol to isolate apps and tenants in cloud computing environments. A VLAN can only have a maximum of 4096 individual network IDs assigned to it. VXLAN significantly expands the number of available IDs up to 16 million logical networks.
VXLAN allows millions of isolated Layer 2 networks to coexist on a common Layer 3 infrastructure. This allows organizations to support elastic computing architectures at scale. It also helps network engineers remotely migrate VMs and isolate tenants with their own logical networks in large cloud computing environments.
For data centers, VXLAN offers many advantages. VXLAN enables data centers to:
- Access the granularity needed for large virtual networks.
- Dramatically increases agility and flexibility.
- Simplify management, automation, and orchestration of virtual networks.
- Supports multiple tenants for multi-tenant cloud computing environments.
- Allocate resources between data centers and migrate VMs between servers. and
- Overcome the limitations of VLANs.
In other words, VXLAN is an evolution of VLANs and has become the industry standard overlay network virtualization technology. They are supported by a variety of vendors and play an important role in software-defined networking.
VXLAN vs WAN vs VLAN
To understand what sets VXLAN apart from other network technologies and protocols, let’s first look at the three main types of network technologies.
- lan. A LAN is a network that connects devices in close proximity. This allows network nodes to communicate and share resources. There are two basic methods of setting up a LAN: wired and wireless connections. Organizations can deploy wired LANs using Ethernet cables and Layer 2 switches, allowing devices to connect and communicate over Ethernet.
- Metropolitan Network (MAN). A MAN is a network that interconnects LANs in geographic areas spanning metropolitan areas. Organizations with multiple buildings within a city can use MAN to provide data communications to any location.
- wan. WANs further extend the reach of networks. Sometimes it spans states, countries, or even the whole world. It is not limited to the metropolitan area or proximity to a LAN. Although organizations can set up a LAN and connect to the WAN using a router or similar device, the WAN infrastructure is usually privately owned or leased from a third-party provider such as a carrier. Because of this, a WAN is not the most secure option, especially when used over shared or public Wi-Fi. Organizations can implement a wired or wireless WAN or LAN. Wired usually provides better security. Within the WAN, users can access shared applications, services, and other centrally located resources.
LANs have limited reach, MANs are unlikely to meet the needs of a globalized environment, and WANs have some security and traffic issues.
A VLAN is a logical overlay network on top of a physical LAN. Network switches identify VLANs by ID, and each port on the switch can have multiple VLAN IDs. Hosts connected to switch ports by VLAN ID can access data through the virtual network.
By dividing a single switch network into nested sets of virtual networks, VLANs isolate each group of devices connected to the network. Each network can reduce the amount of traffic handled by allocating resources to only the relevant traffic, providing an increased level of security and better provisioning of network resources. However, the limited number of VLAN IDs is the biggest drawback for data centers that must support large-scale computing environments.
VXLAN is an extension of VLAN that greatly expands the number of available IDs, extending the network coverage and benefits of VLANs.
Deploying and operating VXLAN for data center networks
VXLAN deployment and configuration can be complex, but once the network is up and running, administrators can automate the orchestration in a number of ways to simplify the administrative burden.
To begin, you need a clear understanding of network design, especially if you are building on top of an existing network. Consider how to optimize your physical infrastructure, including the location of each gateway, switch, virtual tunnel endpoint, and adapter to carry VXLAN traffic. Design your network hierarchically with VXLAN overlays and underlays in mind, making your architecture simple and extensible.
Organizations that want to interconnect different data centers across multiple regions can use a template-based, multi-site Ethernet VPN. Take this into account when constructing your network and extend your network across your data center with a single overlay.
Once the system is set up and deployed, you programmatically create virtual networks as needed and assign a new ID to each. It then reduces management and operational overhead by making configuration changes that are reflected across all switches.