TechDogs-"It’s The New Age Of Network Virtualization"

Networking Technology

It’s The New Age Of Network Virtualization

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We wouldn’t blame you for thinking that video calling first appeared in the early 2000s. We mean, Internet calling and front-facing cameras on smartphones took off during this period. Moreover, the first smartphone to offer a front-facing camera was the Kyocera Visual Phone VP-210, released in Japan in 1999. After that, we saw a deluge of smartphones with “selfie cameras” pop up in the market. It made the world smaller as you could talk to someone as if they were in the same room as you. However, it might surprise you to know that this step towards networking started in 1968 when AT&T introduced the Picturephone.

Today, we’re looking at another technology that has its roots deep in history but was only realized in the modern era. Besides, it is also related to the concept of networking – enabling two or more devices to communicate using a shared link. What’s more, just like our smartphone cameras, most of us use this technology every day!

Hop on, as we explore what Network Virtualization is in this introductory article!
TechDogs-"It’s The New Age Of Network Virtualization" Virtualization In Hardware In The Bin!
Network Virtualization – we know it sounds complex but we’re here to simplify it! This term essentially refers to technology that enables network functions that usually run on hardware to be delivered through software applications. This allows the entire network to be managed as a single virtual entity, making it easier to manage, provision and scale. Network Virtualization (NV, for short) has been the primary building block for modern approaches to network management, such as Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). However, we’ll focus on NV in this article.

Network Virtualization employs specialized software to mimic the hardware or physical layers of traditional networks. The modernization of business networks has undoubtedly benefited greatly from Network Virtualization. So, let’s explore the concept of Network Virtualization in more detail – its history, working, benefits, importance and future trends!

Understanding Network Virtualization

Network Virtualization (NV) refers to technology that abstracts network resources that are traditionally delivered through hardware to software applications. NV can combine multiple physical network resources to create a unified, virtual, software-based network. However, it can also divide a physical network into disparate, independent virtual networks if needed. This flexibility is the main advantage of using virtualized networks over traditional hardware-based networks. #GetWithTheTimes

Network Virtualization leverages software that enables network administrators and IT teams to virtually deploy a network with software-defined functions. This would generally require reconfiguring the hardware elements in traditional networks. However, with Network Virtualization, the network’s separate virtual layers can be scaled, modified, updated and redeployed with just a few clicks.

For the history buffs wondering what we meant when we said this tech has its “roots deep in history” – here’s a quick recap of the evolution of Network Virtualization.

Evolution And Origins Of Network Virtualization

TechDogs-"Evolution And Origins Of Network Virtualization"A Meme About The History Of Network Virtualization
Virtualization, which describes methods to create software-based IT services/functions that are traditionally bound to hardware, has been around since the 1960s. Since then, it has developed into a variety of concepts including Network Virtualization, software virtualization, database virtualization, server virtualization, etc.

in 1981, Dr. David Sincoskie (who some call the grandfather of the Internet) was busy experimenting with segmenting voice over Ethernet networks. Although his experiment led to the invention of VoIP solutions, this could be considered the first attempt to divide resources on a network. The issue with Ethernet networks was that they were not adequate to connect multiple Ethernet sub-networks. The total bandwidth of the Ethernet network was roughly 10 Mbit/s (a unit of network bandwidth). Moreover, the maximum distance between network nodes was a couple of hundred feet. This led to the conceptualization of a virtual network that could be scaled and provisioned on demand.

Later, in 1990, IEEE adopted the 802.1D Ethernet standard based on this idea. In 1998, Ethernet virtual local area networks (VLAN) were outlined and ratified in the first edition of the IEEE 802.1Q-1998 standard. This led to the invention of switched networks, which allowed VLANs to dominate the networking landscape and were practical “virtualized” networks.

With better computing resources and advances in networking technology, virtual networks expanded into the modern concept of Network Virtualization. Yet, how do they actually work?
How Does Network Virtualization Work?

How Does Network Virtualization Work?

TechDogs-"How Does Network Virtualization Work?"A Meme About Network Virtualization
Network Virtualization separates network functions from the hardware that delivers them. This enables the virtual provisioning of the entire network. This means IT teams can create, provision, scale and manage networks (and sub-networks) through a software application.

Software is used to deliver physical network functions such as switching, routing, firewalling, load balancing, etc. Network functions are distributed to virtual layers using hypervisors (this is what creates and runs virtual machines). So, virtual machines (VMs) can be defined for each network function. Now, when a network workload moves to another host, the VM and its network functions move with it. When a workload scales, the relevant policies are dynamically applied to the VMs, resulting in increased consistency and network agility.

Internet Protocol (IP) packet forwarding is the only function that depends on the physical network. So, while the software manages the functioning of the network, the underlying physical network transmits data packets as and when required.

When the network functions are offloaded to software, there are many benefits, especially for large networks used by businesses and enterprises. Scroll on to know what these benefits are!
Benefits Of Network Virtualization

Benefits Of Network Virtualization

Network Virtualization offers many benefits to users, network admins and IT teams. It is why the concept is nearly ubiquitous in today’s networking systems. The primary advantages include:
  • Lower Hardware Costs

    Hardware costs are decreased with Network Virtualization as services can be provided by VMs on an abstracted virtual layer. This results in a network that is more cost-effective and requires fewer maintenance expenses.

  • Dynamic Network Control

    Network Virtualization enables centralized control of network resources, as well as dynamic provisioning and reconfiguration. Additionally, virtual machines that deliver network functions can optimize resource utilization.

  • On-demand Scalability

    Businesses can scale their networks up or down to meet demands thanks to Network Virtualization. As a result, the network can expand as needed and businesses can effectively turn their networks into "as-a-service" models.

TechDogs-"Benefits Of Network Virtualization"A Meme About The Benefits Of Network Virtualization
Just kidding! However, you need to be aware that although NV offers many benefits, you need to choose from various types based on your virtualization needs.

Types Of Network Virtualization

Network Virtualization varies based on the primary function of the network, that is, what is being transmitted over it. Here are the four common types you need to know:
  • Network-based

    This type of Network Virtualization combines the resources allocated to a network and divides them into numerous distinct and separate channels based on the available bandwidth.

  • Server-based

    This method simulates physical servers by transforming their identities, numbers, processors, operating systems, etc. This relieves the burden of constantly managing complex server resources while retaining the ability to scale them as and when needed.

  • Data-based

    This type of Network Virtualization is utilized with cloud computing to abstract the resources needed in data management, resulting in wider access and more resilience with business requirements.

  • Application-based

    This type of Network Virtualization in the cloud abstracts the application layer, separating it from the rest of the network’s operating framework. This enables cross-platform operations as applications can be containerized. 

Well, now you know almost everything about Network Virtualization – except what’s next!

What’s The Future Of Network Virtualization?

Just as human networking evolved from glitchy audio calls to video calling on HD front-facing cameras, Network Virtualization is also innovating to enable, well, better networking!

The future of NV is a network hypervisor or NSX. It is an advanced hypervisor for virtualized environments that will be powered by virtual switches. As today's virtualized networks still rely on hardware elements for data transmission, there are limitations to the number of ports that can be used. However, the number of virtual switch ports will far outnumber physical switch ports, leading to exponential scaling opportunities.

NSX will also have the ability to provide zero-trust security between virtual machines. Zero-trust security removes the assumption of trust between nodes in a network and improves security in larger networks. Additionally, the adoption of NSX will boost the transition towards software-defined data centers (SDDC). All in all, NV will see higher investment and adoption as businesses look to virtualize their networks!

Are You Ready To Virtualize That Network – The Conclusion

The conversion of a hardware-dependent network into a software-based network is known as Network Virtualization. The fundamental goal of Network Virtualization, like all forms of virtualization, is to create an abstraction layer between hardware and software that its functions rely on. NV enables more efficient, scalable and consistent delivery of network resources and functions. We hope this article was helpful in understanding all about Network Virtualization!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Network Virtualization?

Network Virtualization (NV) simplifies network management by abstracting traditional hardware-based network resources into software applications. This technology allows networks to be managed as a single virtual entity, enhancing manageability, provisioning, and scalability. NV serves as a cornerstone for modern network management approaches like Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV), offering flexibility and efficiency in network operations.

How Does Network Virtualization Work?

Network Virtualization separates network functions from the underlying hardware, enabling the virtual provisioning of entire networks. Through specialized software, network administrators can create, scale, and manage virtual networks with software-defined functions. Virtual machines (VMs) host network functions, which can be dynamically allocated, modified, and redeployed as needed. This approach enhances network agility and consistency while optimizing resource utilization.

What Are the Benefits of Network Virtualization?

Network Virtualization offers several advantages, including reduced hardware costs, centralized network control, and on-demand scalability. By leveraging virtualization technology, businesses can lower hardware expenses, dynamically manage network resources, and scale networks according to demand. Additionally, Network Virtualization enhances resource utilization and enables businesses to adopt flexible "as-a-service" models for network operations.

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