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Cisco and Microsoft cooperate to bring network-layer management to Hyper-V

Windows Server 8 looks promising enough that Cisco it is queuing up two new products designed to extend its network controls to Hyper-V virtual environments when Microsoft releases Windows Server 8 sometime next year.

Cisco will offer two ways to peer inside Hyper-V physical machines to mine network-layer information about Hyper-V virtual machines and to extend Cisco network-layer monitoring, management and configuration to them.

The first is a version of Cisco's Nexus 1000V Series switch designed to support Hyper-V. It is a distributed virtual switch that fits Hyper-V virtual machines with virtual Ethernet cards that can be managed via another component of the switch, Cisco's Virtual Supervisor Module.

WINDOWS SERVER 8: The Microsoft Server Fork

The supervisor module is tightly integrated with Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Cisco says, which will enable customers to set separate privileges for different classes of administrators. The Virtual Supervisor Module can be deployed on a physical appliance or on a virtual machine. The entire distributed switch can be hosted on a Cisco physical appliance called Nexus 1010 Virtual Services Appliance.

The combination gives current administrators in Cisco shops easier management of the virtual machines because they can deal with them via Cisco NX-OS software that they are already familiar with, Cisco says. The virtual machines seem as if they are extensions of the physical network, making it easier to enforce policies, provision and diagnose problems on the virtual machines, Cisco says. Rather than deal with the virtual environment separately, it is brought under one umbrella.

Nexus 1000V is also integrated with other Cisco products so their features can be applied to virtual machines. The virtual switch will support three virtual network services products at launch. First, Virtual Security Gateway provides zoned security policies for multi-tenant virtual environments. Second, Virtual Wide Area Application Services supports accelerated application performance for applications hosted on virtual servers in data centers and private clouds. Third, Network Analysis Module grants visibility into the virtual environment for troubleshooting performance problems.

Hyper-V already comes with its own virtual switch, but it can't support the same level of management that Nexus 1000V will be able to, Cisco says.

Cisco is also launching a new Hyper-V-friendly version Cisco Unified Computing System Virtual Machine Fabric Extender, which extends Cisco management to virtual environments. The benefit is similar to that if Nexus 1000V in that it gives a network-layer view and controls of the virtual environment, Cisco says.

With UCS VM-FEX administrators can treat the physical and virtual elements of their networks as a single infrastructure for provisioning, configuration, management, monitoring and troubleshooting.

The new products will work with Windows Server 8 but not earlier versions of Windows Server. Existing versions of Nexus 1000V and UCS VM-FEX already work with Hyper-V competitor VMware's virtual environments.

Cisco says pricing isn't available yet for the new products.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.


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