26 – Bis – VxLAN VTEP GW: Software versus Hardware-based

Just a slight note to clarify some VxLAN deployment for an hybrid network (Intra-DC).

As discussed in the previous post, with the software-based VxLAN, only one single VTEP L2 Gateway can be active for the same VxLAN instance.

This means that all end-systems connected to the VLAN concerned by a mapping with a particular VNID must be confined into the same leaf switch where the VTEP GW is attached. Other end-systems connected to the same VLAN but on different leaf switches isolated by the layer 3 fabric cannot communicate with the VTEP L2 GW. This may be a concern with hybrid network where servers supporting the same application are spread over multiple racks.

To allow bridging between VNID and VLAN, it implies that the L2 network domain is spanned between the active VTEP L2 Gateway and all servers of interest that share the same VLAN ID. Among other improvements, VxLAN is also aiming to contain the layer 2 failure domain to its smallest diameter, leveraging instead layer 3 for the transport, not necessarily both. Although it is certainly a bit antithetical to VxLAN purposes, nonetheless if all leafs are concerned by the same mapping of VNID to VLAN ID, it is feasible to extend the Layer 2 via the fabric using a layer 2 multi-pathing protocol, such as FabriPath.

In the following example, the server 4 attached to leaf 4 cannot communicate with the VTEP L2 GW located on leaf 1. As a result, VM-1 cannot communicate with server 4.

Fortunately the hardware solves this. The great added value of enabling the VTEP L2 gateway on the hardware switch (ToR) is that it is distributed and active on each leaf. Thus communication between VTEP on each switch is handled using the VxLAN tunnel. Hence, VNID 5000 can be bridged with VLAN 100 on leaf 4 and therefore VM-1 can communicate with server 4.

The other interesting added-value with the hardware-based anycast L2 gateway is the VLAN translation using the VLAN stitching, that can be useful for some migration purposes. Each leaf can map the same VNID with a different VLAN on its own side. In the following example VNID 5000 can be bridged with VLAN 100 on leaf 1 and VLAN 200 on leaf 6. Consequently, VLAN 100 and VLAN 200 share now the same broadcast domain.

If the software-based solution of VxLAN is a flexible solution in a fully virtualised environment, it is not always so well adapted to the hybrid network built with a mix of virtual and physical devices spread over unorganised racks.

Hope that clarifies the choice of VxLAN mode that you wish to deploy.


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