Software Defined Networking (SDN) has brought new levels of efficiency to various use cases including data center, campus and WAN. It has brought with it promise of increased agility, lower CapEx and OpEx. Big Switch Networks has been at the forefront of this trend in data center networking. By leveraging the power of open source software and a growing demand of hardware software disaggregation with lower cost white-box or brite-box switches, Big Switch has been able to provide solutions that provide automation, agility with centralized management and lower total cost of ownership.

Keeping these principles front & center, Big Switch is introducing the concept of “Virtual PODs” or vPODs for short with our Big Cloud Fabric product. Now customers have the ability to build multiple “Virtual PODs” on a shared “Physical POD” for application testing and deployment flexibility. These virtual PODs can use same or different virtualization stacks such as VMware vCenter or Openstack and can even have baremetal infrastructure that can be part of a given virtual POD. These virtual PODs provide security isolation and can have overlapping VLAN name space and IP space without concern since essentially each virtual POD is contained within its own set of tenants (VRFs). Customers also have the flexibility to provide connectivity between these various PODs depending on the requirements. So one might ask, what is the benefit here? Here are some of the architectural and operational benefits.

  • Multi-Orchestration support: Customers can continue to use their existing virtualization stack while testing or provisioning new stack for future application deployment. There is no need to deploy purpose built physical PODs to test or provision applications with new virtualization stack. As an example, customers can connect up to 20 different VMware vCenter PODs on a single Big Cloud Fabric POD or host VMware or Openstack private clouds on the same physical POD. This results in significant cost savings as well as simplify and reduce operational burden. Big Cloud Fabric is designed in such a way that it can keep track of exactly which orchestration system owns certain resources by tagging each piece of configuration with a specific config owner. The following CLI example shows that this resource is controlled by vCenter with a name of “vsphere-vcenter-se”.

  • Multi hypervisor support: Different tenants have the flexibility to use the orchestration of their own choosing driven by the types of hypervisors hosted their applications (KVM, ESXi or bare-metal). For example, port-groups within VMware auto create L2 segments within a BCF POD for a given tenant. Similarly, a network created in Openstack automatically gets created on the same BCF.

  • Virtual Switch Flexibility: Customers have the ability to use an OVS for virtual switching in one POD, Big Switch’s virtual switch “switch-light virtual (SVL)” in another POD providing distributed routing for those workloads and VMware distributed vSwitch in another POD while still being able to leverage automation for host and LAG detection and provisioning in each of the case.

  • Visibility and Analytics: Big Switch provides several features that provide enhances capabilities for operations and troubleshooting. For example, port group orchestration with vmotion, test path feature that provides end to end logical and physical path tracing and visibility.


Fig1: Test Path feature in BCF shows logical and physical connectivity between VMs



Fig1: Single BCF hosting multiple vPODs with different orchestrator (vSphere and Openstack)

With the centralized debugging and analytics provided by the Big Cloud Fabric controller, the operations team can monitor the physical and virtual infrastructure from one place & not deal with box-by-box management and troubleshooting. In summary, customers can take advantage of hosting multiple instances of Openstack or VMware private Clouds on a project-by-project basis on the same shared physical Big Cloud Fabric POD while providing all the integration benefits to provide enhanced visibility and automation for different types of vPODs.

 For the demo of vPOD , please visit


Salman Zahid

Systems Engineering