It’s Tuesday, May 10, late afternoon. My phone rings and I see “Tim Mackey” on the display. Knowing that Tim is in Las Vegas setting up for Interop, I answer the phone expecting some verification questions about our XenServer Distributed Virtual Switching (DVS) messaging and plans so he will be fully prepared for the days to come.

We actually already had a conversation 2 weeks ago about our DVS solution in XenServer and our plans for the future. The reason for this conversation was really so he could be optimally prepared for Interop where Citrix would be part of the InteropNet OpenFlow Lab. Tim also took care of creating a demo environment showing off our DVS implementation, something he had to do anyway for our XenServer DVS presentation at Synergy 2011 in San Francisco.

This call, however, was not about our plans or our messaging or our features. Instead, Tim arrived at the OpenFlow Lab and found out that he had to integrate his XenServer demo environment into the existing OpenFlow Lab infrastructure. After a very short call (obviously Tim was under some time pressure) about some technical details, I hung up the phone and was thinking that this change of plans for the demo was excellent news. A great way to implement and run XenServer DVS in a real world scenario, integrated in an infrastructure running various other OpenFlow based solutions.

InteropNet OpenFlow Lab Infrastructure

Of course there were always ways of integrating XenServer in an existing infrastructure, but for networking, doing so came at a cost. The legacy networking technology used in XenServer does its job, but end-to-end monitoring, controlling and managing the network infrastructure (virtual as well as physical) was challenging, if not impossible. To address these challenges Citrix decided to integrate a new networking technology for XenServer, based on the OpenFlow Switching protocol standard and using the Open vSwitch virtual switch.

XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 1, released in December 2010, was the first hypervisor platform on the market with an embedded OpenFlow based virtual switch. OpenFlow was always an obvious choice for us, since XenServer development always has been about giving customers options (vs. locking them in) and, of course, making use of open standards.

Although OpenFlow is still “young”, it is obvious that the industry as a whole has been waiting for some standardization when it comes to managing networks. This became very obvious earlier this year when the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) was formed, which includes members like HP, Google, Broadcom, Facebook, Citrix, Dell and many others. ONF’s mission is to promote a new approach to networking called Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and increasing adoption of OpenFlow as a standard is one of the main priorities of the ONF.

Some active OpenFlow contributors

Maybe some of you who are reading this have been to Interop and had a chance to see XenServer DVS in action in an OpenFlow networking infrastructure. But if you didn’t or just want to know more about Citrix Distributed Virtual Switching I recommend attending our session at Synergy.

During this session we will tell you in more detail:

  • How XenServer DVS can address many of today’s challenges when it comes to managing your virtual networks
  • How XenServer DVS works
  • Which features XenServer DVS offers
  • How XenServer DVS can be a part of an OpenFlow based infrastructure
  • And share some of our plans for XenServer DVS in the future

We will also show you how it works in our on-stage demo. I’m afraid the focus of the demo will be mainly around XenServer, unless Tim manages to take some of that Interop infrastructure with him…

We hope to see you all at Synergy 2011!

Joel & Tim

PS also keep your eyes open for a blog post from Tim about his experiences at Interop