vSphere 6.0: Introduction to vSphere Distributed Switch (Part-4)

In pervious post of this series, we learned about vSphere Standard Switch Policies and how to configure them. In this post, we’ll learn what is vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS)? If you missed previous posts if this series, you can follow:

  1. Introduction to vSphere Standard Switch (vSS)
  2. Create vSphere Standard Switch (vSS)
  3. Configuring vSphere Standard Switch Policies

A vSphere Distributed Switch provides centralized management and monitoring of the networking configuration of all hosts that are associated with the switch. You set up a distributed switch on a vCenter Server system, and its settings are propagated to all hosts that are associated with the switch.

Note: For managing and monitoring vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS) you’ll require vSphere Enterprise Plus License.

Benefits of vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS)

vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS) has the following benefits over vSphere Standard Switch (vSS)

  • vDS simplifies the data center administration
  • Configuration of vDS is consistent across all the hosts that are configured with it.
  • vDS behavior is also consistent with the behavior of vSS
  • vDS supports advanced features such as Private VLANs, NetFlow, and port mirroring.
  • vDS enables networking statistics and policies to migrate with virtual machines during a migration process using vMotion.
  • vDS also allows for customization and third-party development.

Feature Comparison of Standard Switch and Distributed Switch

As I mentioned earlier that vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS) supports advanced features. Following table shows the feature comparison of vSS and vDS.

vSS and vDS features

VMware vCenter Server manages the configuration of vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS), and the configuration remains consistent across all hosts that use the distributed switch.

vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS) Architecture

vDS is managed and configured by vCenter Server and it requires vSphere Enterprise Plus License. vDS abstracts a set of standard switches that are configured on each associated host, and vCenter Server manages the configuration of vDS. Each distributed switch includes distributed ports, and any network entity such a VM or VMkernel interface can be connected to distributed port.

vCenter Server stores the state of distribued posts in vCener Server database. Networking statistics and policies are migrated with VMs when they move from one host to another.

When we configure vDS, uplinks are also used with distributed switches to communicate with outer world. An uplink associate vmnics on multiple hosts to a single vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS).

                                              Figure:  Thanks to VMware

vDS consists of two logical sections that are the data plane and the management plane in above mentioned figure. The data plane implements the package switching, filtering, tagging, and so on. The management plane is the control structure that you use to configure the data plane functionality. A vSphere Standard Switch contains both data and management planes, and you configure and maintain each standard switch individually.

A vSphere Distributed Switch (vDS) separates the data plane and the management plane. The management functionality of the distributed switch resides on the vCenter Server system that lets you administer the networking configuration of your environment on a data center level. The data plane remains locally on every host that is associated with the distributed switch. The data plane section of the distributed switch is called a host proxy switch. The networking configuration that you create on vCenter Server (the management plane) is automatically pushed down to all host proxy switches (the data plane).

For complete guidance regarding vSphere 6.0 installation, configuration and management, you can follow VMware vSphere 6 Administration course.

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Source: VMware vSphere Networking Guide

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