Posts Tagged ‘otv’


Edit: For those of you that want to take a look first-hand at these packets, the Wireshark PCAP files referenced in this post can be found here

One of the hottest topics in networking today is Data Center Virtualized Workload Mobility (VWM). For those of you that have been hiding under a rock for the past few years, workload mobility basically means the ability to dynamically and seamlessly reassign hardware resources to virtualized machines, often between physically disparate locations, while keeping this transparent to the end users. This is often accomplished through VMware vMotion, which allows for live migration of virtual machines between sites, or as similarly implemented in Microsoft’s Hyper-V and Citrix’s Xen hypervisors.

One of the typical requirements of workload mobility is that the hardware resources used must be on the same layer 2 network segment. E.g. the VMware Host machines must be in the same IP subnet and VLAN in order to allow for live migration their VMs. The big design challenge then becomes, how do we allow for live migrations of VMs between Data Centers that are not in the same layer 2 network? One solution to this problem that Cisco has devised is a relatively new technology called Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV).

As a side result of preparing for INE’s upcoming CCIE Data Center Nexus Bootcamp I’ve had the privilege (or punishment depending on how you look at it ;) ) of delving deep into the OTV implementation on Nexus 7000. My goal was to find out exactly what was going on behind the scenes with OTV. The problem I ran into though was that none of the external Cisco documentation, design guides, white papers, Cisco Live presentations, etc. really contained any of this information. The only thing that is out there on OTV is mainly marketing info, i.e. buzzword bingo, or very basic config snippets on how to implement OTV. In this blog post I’m going to discuss the details of my findings about how OTV actually works, with the most astonishing of these results being that OTV is in fact, a fancy GRE tunnel.

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Recently, there were discussions going around about Cisco’s new datacenter technology – Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV), implemented in Nexus 7k data-center switches (limited demo deployments only). The purpose of this technology is connecting separated data-center islands over a convenient packet switched network. It is said that OTV is a better solution compared to well-known VPLS, or any other Layer 2 VPN technology. In this post we are going to give a brief comparison of two technologies and see what benefits OTV may actually bring to data-centers.

VPLS Overview

We are going to give a rather condensed overview of VPLS functionality here, just to have a baseline to compare OTV with. A reader is assumed to have solid understanding or MPLS and Layer 2 VPNs, as technology fundamentals are not described here.

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