VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) enables enterprises to deploy production-grade OpenStack private clouds on VMware vSphere and NSX-v environments giving VMware administrators the ability to offer multi-tenant cloud infrastructure leveraging industry-standard OpenStack orchestration. Key operational capabilities such as installation, configuration, visibility, and troubleshooting are provided via deep integration with already familiar VMware management tools, enabling fast time-to-innovation and lower total cost of ownership. 

The Big Cloud Fabric + VMware Integrated OpenStack Solution

Physical networking has traditionally been quite challenging for data center administrators to design, configure and troubleshoot due to its box-by-box operational model and distributed control plane. The Big Cloud Fabric (BCF) solution -- an SDN fabric implemented with commodity open networking (white box/brite box) switches -- simplifies physical network operations and provides enhanced visibility and troubleshooting. When BCF is deployed as a cost-optimized underlay for VIO, enterprises can eliminate the box-by-box underlay complexity and truly experience an end-to-end software-defined cloud infrastructure.

The BCF + VIO solution leverages NSX-v as an SDN overlay for L3 (operating as one logical v-switch) and BCF as the SDN underlay (operating as one logical p-switch). VMware vCenter acts a central integration point both for integration with the BCF controller as well as for deploying VIO to install the OpenStack module. BCF’s fabric analytics provide network administrator visibility to server virtualization and network virtualization (overlay) to streamline interactions across virtualization/cloud and networking domains, as well as enable rapid resolution of networking issues.

A detailed demo of the solution can be found in this video link

Solution Benefits

BCF Physical Underlay Benefits

  • ESXi host discovery/auto-LAG formation for each of the ESXi hosts connected to the BCF using LLDP.
  • Auto creation of the BCF segments corresponding to NSX transport VLAN and external VLAN.
  • VTEP endpoints are auto-discovered and details are displayed in BCF’s endpoint table.
  • •BCF auto provisions/prunes the segment membership on the ESXi host link aggregation (LAG) based on the VM or VM kernel interfaces present on that host.

Operational Benefits - Simplified Visibility and Troubleshooting 

The key challenge with networking in virtual environments is the lack of visibility on the end-to-end connectivity between VM endpoints across both the virtual and physical networks. The BCF/VIO solution offers significant benefits to data center administrators by providing advanced end-to-end visibility and enhanced troubleshooting capabilities, all exposed through a single pane of the glass, the BCF GUI. 

This is also extended to provide NSX overlay visibility to BCF underlay, which can be a great asset for network administrators to have a consistent and combined view of the overlay and underlay environments. BCF controller provid

es NSX cluster/VTEP visibility, visibility for NSX VXLAN traffic through the physical fabric using BCF test path capability, and the use of BCF’s Fabric Analytics for NSX-v overlay visibility


Figure 1 – The Big Cloud Fabric + VMware Integrated OpenStack Solution

Visibility at the VM level

The BCF GUI presents all the VM-related information that it learnt from the vCenter. The display includes all of the hosts, their vmNICs, and the physical fabric interfaces to which the hosts are connected. It also includes the VM endpoint information including the name, logical segment, IP, MAC, and LAG. The endpoint table lists all VTEP tunnel endpoints created for NSX - ESXi host name, IP and MAC of VTEP, physical location and NSX transport VLAN. All of this information helps the admin get a quick understanding of the fabric configuration to begin a troubleshooting session.

OpenStack / NSX traffic visibility through the physical fabric

The VTEP-to-VTEP fabric trace capability helps troubleshooting of the physical underlay fabric a very simple operation, making the SDN-based physical fabric the best underlay for the SDN-based NSX overlay. Traffic visibility across the virtual and physical network can be simulated using BCF’s test path feature which displays on the controller both physical and logical path taken by the traffic from one VM to another. This level of visibility to traffic, which cannot be achieved with box-by-box networking, helps rapidly determine if an application issue is network-related versus compute-related without going through tedious trouble ticket processes

BCF Fabric Analytics for NSX-v Overlay

BCF provides advanced Fabric Analytics for VMware networking with a graphical representation of all the VM names and related information (creation time, pNIC info, port-groups), and a time-series of events related to the VMs. This module is extended to include both VM-level and overlay network visibility. Correlations across VM name, VXLAN ID (or VNI), and Logical Switch are also provided to simplify debugging of VM connectivity issues. This again is a tremendous asset for troubleshooting as the administrator can get to the details of specific events for one or more VMs or can zoom into a timeslot to obtain all events that may have occurred during the period.

BCF Content Pack for vRealize Log Insight

The BCF Content Pack is now available for VMware vRealize Log Insight in VMware Solutions Exchange 

This content pack provides significant operational value for the VMware admins with the following capabilities available for VMware/BCF deployments:

  • Centralized Network view for multiple BCF PODS.
  • Deep analytics with logical & physical network events and time series logs enables proactive monitoring.
  • Monitoring of error conditions with email notification or alert sent to vRealize Operations admin. This significantly reduces the time for troubleshooting application issues.

Register here for a webinar to be hosted at Big Switch on Feb 24, 2016 to learn more about the BCF+VIO solution.


Bala Ramachandran (Director PM, Tech Partnerships, Big Switch Networks) and Trevor Roberts Jr. (Sr. Technical Marketing Manager, VMware)