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Virtual Network Fluency

Simply picking up your existing network architecture and moving it to a completely new one is not going to happen overnight

Like moving to IPv6, simply picking up your existing network architecture and moving it to a completely new one is not going to happen overnight. There will undoubtedly still be "traditional" networks hanging around even when SDN adoption is considered mainstream and fully mature. That's the nature of evolution; it doesn't happen in the blink of eye, it takes time.

Right now organizations are faced with a variety of options in networking. From VXLAN to NVGRE, from traditional to software-defined, choices abound today. And chances are that most largish networks will actually take  advantage of  several of those choices, depending on what phase of adoption they're in.

That means heterogeneous networks; or hybrid if you want something shorter and easier to type.

What makes this a nearly untenable arrangement is that applications may be deployed atop two discrete (and not necessarily interoperable) networks and yet need to communicate, and applications still have to be delivered via the appropriate set of L4-7 services to assure available, performance and security.

Which means interoperability challenges may impede adoption of specific SDN-related technologies.

But if we apply the same principles as virtualization and cloud computing - namely that of abstraction - to the service layer we can achieve interoperability and advance the adoption of SDN-related technologies without nearly as much trouble.

That's one of the benefits of F5 Synthesis, specifically its High Performance Service Fabric.

All Networks are Created Equal
The service layer of a data center architecture is able to abstract applications from the underlying network technology and ensure interoperability when it can act as a sort of network gateway. That is, it can translate between the different network architectures, effectively enabling applications on VXLAN virtual networks to communicate with applications residing on NVGRE virtual networks, or across traditional, VLAN-based networks.


Synthesis v1.5 brought with it a lot of updates and changes, and one of those was around virtual networking. Synthesis 1.5 offers full NVGRE and unicast VXLAN support, and enables the High Performance Service Fabric to act as a virtual network gateway. This capability means Synthesis can insulate application architectures from the impact of a heterogeneous network - whether by way of a transitory step to a full SDN-enabled network or as the intentional end result.

Applications can easily be deployed on one, then migrate to another and even another network, without disruption to the L4-7 services critical to their delivery. This capability enables an agnostic approach to the architecture of the L4-7 service infrastructure with respect to the network.

F5 Synthesis is focused on delivering the Software Defined Application Services (SDAS) critical to the security, availability and performance of applications  no matter what type of network may be in use. To that end, all networks are created equal and Synthesis' High Performance Services Fabric will continue to support them all, which means less disruption as organizations transition to or through a heterogeneous network environment.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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