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At Cisco Live, Gigamon brings visibility to virtual environments

A new solution brings vision to blind spots in virtual workloads.

All eyes are on Orlando, Florida, this week as Cisco Live gets underway. With all due respect to Interop, the show formerly known as Networkers has become the place to be if you want to learn what’s going on in networking, with over 20,000 in attendances this year. I don’t think anyone would deny the fact that virtualization has become a huge issue for not just server managers but also network managers. In fact, in last year’s ZK Research/Tech Target network purchase intention survey, we asked what technology product was consuming more time and resources compared to the year prior. Server virtualization was the No. 1 response, with over 31% of respondents showing just how big an impact virtualization is having with network managers.

Just a few short years ago, network managers couldn’t have cared less about server virtualization, as it was a technology that was used to improve the utilization of servers and had little impact on the network. Obviously, things have changed significantly over the past few years as the use of virtualization technology has expanded past consolidation.

Virtualization has created a number of blind spots for the network manager, making it challenging to troubleshoot problems, analyze performance, or secure traffic. This can be particularly problematic with traffic flows within a single host. For example, many customers use a Cisco Nexus 1000v with VMware virtual infrastructure to improve the agility of virtual workloads. However, when this deployment model is used, traffic between the VMs can be switched within the host and never actually hit the physical switch, making it invisible to current existing monitoring and analysis tools. Additionally, when customers use vMotion, VMs are migrated from one host to another. If the visibility policies are not moved with the workload move, all visibility would be lost, requiring manual reconfiguration.

At Cisco Live this week, hot off its recent IPO, Gigamon, the market leader in visibility fabrics, announced support for the Cisco Nexus 1000v and VMware’s vMotion. Customers that deploy the GigaVUE-VM Visibility Fabric Node will have end-to-end visibility across VMware environments that are using the Cisco Nexus 1000v or VMware’s own virtual switch.

The enhanced visibility into the virtualization layer gives customers a view of inter-VM traffic flowing in a physical host, but also across different physical hosts. Also, GigaVUE-VM allows network managers to detect, select and forward VM traffic of interest to Gigamon’s flow-mapping filtering technology for better analysis of the traffic.

For vMotion, Gigamon has integrated its product into vCenter. This is significant as it gives virtualization managers a single pane of glass to manage the VMware environment. When a vMotion is triggered, the GigaVUE-VM nodes are automatically reconfigured to virtually rewire the monitoring map rules for near real-time synchronization of the visibility policies and migrated hosts.

The bond between virtualization and the network is only going to get tighter over the next few years. The enhanced visibility into the virtual world should be of great interest to large organizations looking to use virtualization for more than just server consolidation. I know many network managers who have struggled with these blind spots, so it’s good to see Gigamon bring some much-needed clarity to an increasingly complicated environment.

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