vSphere 5.0 Does Not Deliver on the Visibility Promise

Posted By: christopher@netoptics.com
Thu, 2011-08-25 14:19

VMWorld 2011 is just around the corner and the industry vendors are all gearing up for an exciting show in Las Vegas. We have been preparing for what is the most important show for our Phantom line of products for several weeks now. In the monitoring and access segment, we are the only vendor with solutions developed and tailored for VMWare ESX. We introduced the Phantom Virtual Tap, with it's groundbreaking technology and the response from our customers and industry thought leaders continues to be overwhelmingly positive.

One of the main drivers for the excitement around VMWorld 2011 is the anticipation of vSphere 5.0. This is the new version of the leading hypervisor product that promises to make virtualization adoption even easier than it is right now. We are happy to see the improved switching layer introduced by VMware in this version and our development teams are working hard to complete the update to the Phantom Virtual Tap so it works seamlessly with vSphere 5.0. We will release our next version before the end of the year; we have a lot of Phantom users waiting for the new release as the solution is needed with vSphere 5.0 just as much as it is needed with the current vSphere 4.1 version.

So what's new with virtual switching in vSphere 5.0? Most of the enhancements were made to the VMware Distributed Switch (vDS). The new version includes Netflow support and improved Port Mirroring that is often referred to as Switch Port Analyzer (SPAN). Both Netflow and SPAN support have been part of the Cisco Nexus 1000v Virtual switch for some time now. However, as the leader in monitoring and access, we continue to improve on our offering as our customers do not accept SPAN as a monitoring solution for several reasons:

  • SPAN port provides an unfiltered view of traffic traversing one or multiple ports on a virtual switch
  • The avalanche of SPANed traffic is not consumable and requires filtering to be consumed in a meaningful way
  • SPAN reduces the virtual switch capacity by up to 50% (switch capacity is limited and whatever is being mirrored reduces production throughput)

The Phantom Virtual Tap augments VMware Virtual Switch, VMware Distributed Switch and Cisco Nexus 1000v switch in three meaningful ways:

  • The passive packet capture is done at the kernel layer, below the switch, resulting in the elimination of throughput degradation that is a direct result of using SPAN
  • Monitoring policy allows customers to capture only traffic of interest (do you really want to monitor back-up traffic???)
  • Sophisticated tunneling support allows the captured traffic to be sent to the right tool or destination thereby optimizing network and tool utilization

Much like in the physical switching world, dedicated access layer solutions offer many benefits in comparison to the switching layer devices. The virtual world is not different: customer driven innovation and addressing operational needs yield excellent products. We definitely understand this dynamic and our engineering teams work hard to deliver on it. We have many new solutions in the pipeline and I look forward to sharing those with you. Stay tuned – good things are coming.

If you happen to be in Vegas next week, stop by our booth #1313 at VMworld. We're always happy to see and converse with our customers and partners. Like always, we'll have exciting news on new products shipping right after the show. Again, stay tuned.


— Ran Nahmias