Guide

Virtual networking design, configuration and management guide

Without a well-designed physical and virtual networking architecture, as well as an appropriate amount of bandwidth, your virtual deployment can become inefficient and prone to outside attacks. Virtualization offers numerous benefits to data centers, but you can't realize these rewards unless your network can handle the requirements of virtual machine (VM) traffic.

This introduction to virtual networking architecture, configuration and management helps you streamline networks and improve the efficiency of virtual environments. The first section covers the process of introducing virtualization to physical networks and the planning required to prevent virtual machine performance problems. It also covers how to configure virtual networking with Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware's ESX virtualization technolgoies.

The second section examines managing virtual networks, including the major factors you should monitor and consider, virtual network management options for VMware environments, and how to deal with connectivity and latency issues.

The third section covers how to shore up network security in virtual environments, such as by preventing breaches in demilitarized zones (DMZs), using virtualization administrative networks for management consoles and avoiding data commingling.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Virtual networking configuration
Virtual networking management
Virtual network security

Virtual networking configuration

This section on virtual network architecture basics covers how to plan your networking environment and how to properly configure physical and virtual networks to avoid performance bottlenecks. This section outlines how to integrate virtualization into your physical network as well as how to configure virtualized networks in Hyper-V and VMware ESX environments.

Users eager to try new vNetwork Distributed Switch
The long-awaited VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch enables cluster-level networking and can ease the burdens of confiuring virtual machines individually in cluster configurations. Users weigh in on its possiblities for increasing virtual networking configuration and management.

Bringing virtualization to your network
Introducing virtualization to your data center allows you to consolidate your physical servers, reduce hardware costs and ease network management. An expert explains how to get started with virtualization and networking using a Microsoft Hyper-V installation as an example.

Network architectures and virtualization capacity planning
Virtualization challenges network managers with consolidation and latency considerations, in addition to placing a burden on the network infrastructure in each physical server. An expert examines network architectures and the capacity planning issues that come with constructing virtual networks.

Configuring virtual networks in Hyper-V environments
Using virtual local area network (VLAN) trunks, you can configure virtual networks in Microsoft Hyper-V infrastructures with the help of Hyper-V Manager or System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM).

Network design options for VMware Infrastructure 3 deployments
To maximize the benefits of VMware ESX, you need to design your physical network to address network and I/O bottlenecks. Explore network design options -- such as uplinks and redundancy -- and their implications for physical and virtual networks in VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) deployments.

Networking configurations and considerations in VMware ESX
When it comes to configuring physical servers, NICs, virtual LANs (VLANs) and virtual switches a VMware ESX-based virtual network requires special considerations. Learn about these choices and how to configure efficient virtual networks in VMware ESX environments.

Configuring VLANs in VMware Infrastructure 3
Getting VLANs to work efficiently in VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) environments is no easy task. Discover how to properly configure VLANs in VI3 deployments by determining the types of servers VLANs should reside on and how many physical NICs you'll need to support multiple VLANs.

Face-off: VMware vSwitch vs. Cisco Nexus 1000V
With VMware vSphere 4, IT managers now have options when it comes to virtual networking design. They can choose to build their virtual network around the default VMware vSwitch, or they can go with the Cisco Nexus 1000V virtual network switch. In this VMware vSwitch vs. Nexus 1000V face-off, experts Bob Plankers and David Davis debate the pros and cons of these two approaches to virtual networking.

VLAN configuration with a network design diagram
Virtual networking management in Microsoft Hyper-V is completely different than on the VMware ESX platform, where it's pretty obvious how the physical cards, virtual switches and port groups are connected. Using Microsoft Visio gets around a lot of these problems and lets you create a network design diagram, which can help ensure successful VLAN configuration. Learn how in this tip from expert Greg Shields.


Virtual networking management

As with other aspects of virtual deployments, networking is rife with problem areas. This section covers the management of virtualized networks, including performance concerns, virtualization's impact on network latency and advice on improving virtual network management in VMware environments.

Virtual switch best practices
The virtual switch is the key to successful virtual networking. It's different from the virtual bridges that most server virtualization platforms use, because it has uplinks from physical switches via physical network interface cards (pNICs) and ports that attach to VMs. Learn about more virtual switch features and its best practices for virtual networking in this tip from our Virtualization Explained series.

Virtualization's impact on network configurations
Virtualization improves performance, scalability and connectivity within a network. But virtualized networks also bring challenges, such as the need for increased performance and throughput and the difficulties of managing virtual networks. Discover how to negotiate these issues as they relate to media access control addresses, VLANs and NIC teaming.

Network performance and throughput in virtualized environments
Virtualization has a critical effect on network performance and throughput. As you integrate virtualization into your data center's network, it's important to factor in changing network traffic patterns and rely more heavily on individual switch ports.

Virtual consolidation and the impact on network latency
Because virtualization involves server consolidation, wide area network performance and throughput can suffer as application servers change locations. But if managed properly, virtualized networks can perform efficiently without introducing network latency .

Networking problems the next virtualization hurdle?
Issues such as a shortage of NICs, poor security, traffic bottlenecks and poor communication between physical and virtual network switches can adversely affect virtualized network management.

Solving network and storage connectivity issues when using VMotion
Using VMware's VMotion without considering storage and network connectivity can introduce infrastructural management issues. But with proper planning, VMotion can dynamically allocate virtual hosts across your virtualized network.

Managing virtual networks with VMware's Workstation and the Virtual Network Editor
VMware Workstation's Virtual Network Editor can be intimidating. But with its ability to bridge and map networks in your infrastructure with the click of a button, it's a useful tool for configuring and managing virtual networks. Learn how to map VMs to host network adapters, private networks and LANs.

How to virtualize server I/O
Virtualization strategies for server I/O can turn a complex mess into an efficient virtual environment that delivers I/O connectivity. But to virtualize server I/O, you have to enable VLAN trunking in your network infrastructure.

Maximizing I/O virtualization
Using I/O virtualization can drastically improve efficiency in your data center and save on data center costs. By virtualizing I/O, you can consolidate virtual server workloads and reduce the number of ports and NICs needed to run virtualized networks. Learn how to work with virtual NICs and implement I/O virtualization in VMware ESX environments.

Network I/O virtualization: Making 10 GbE smarter
Virtualized networks can create nagging low-bandwidth problems. With  virtualized I/O and a 10 Gigabit Ethernet card, you can prevent low bandwidth, improve power consumption levels and ease management tasks.


Virtual network security

One of administrators' central concerns is network security. Virtualized environments can augment security problems because virtual servers can be easily created and moved within the environment dynamically. This section explains the process of securing virtual networks and how to prevent VMware networks from being compromised in DMZs.

Considerations for securing virtual environments
If you approach virtual environment security by viewing elements such as a hypervisor and management applications in isolation, you invite breaches and risk to areas such as your network. But using a virtualization administrative network for your host's management console can help to secure your virtual network infrastructure.

Preventing network security breaches in DMZs running VMware ESX or ESXi
Placing VMware ESX or ESXi virtual machines (VMs) in a demilitarized zone (DMZ) exposes your environment to potential network security breaches because VMware networks can maneuver around router and firewall security components that separate a DMZ from an external network. An expert offers resources to prevent your entire virtual network from being breached when running VM networks in DMZs.

Avoid data commingling with VMware virtual networks
Placing VMware ESX and ESXi data of different classification and security levels on converged networks can lead to an insecure infrastructure. Understanding how storage and VM data interoperate over various networks can boost efficiency and keep your virtual networks secure.

This was first published in January 2010

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