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Here is a sample and the most common use case of VXLAN – Avoid the challenge of running out of VLAN limit.

Business Problem

In this use case, IHAC that is currently serving their internal consumers by providing production and development environments in the cloud. During the recent discussions with their IT department, they realized that they are having some networking related restrictions due to which very soon they will not be able to expand their cloud services. Their goal is to provide the following functionalities:

  • Provide Compute, storage and network capabilities on the fly without having to make major investment or infrastructure changes.
  • Expand their project base without having to run out of the resources every few months.
Technical Problem

Currently, the technical department is using VMware vCloud Director 1.5.1 and provide isolated environments for their consumers in a multitenant fashion using VLAN-backed network pools. However, they soon realized that they are running out of VLANs and they are not planning to adopt VCDNI-backed network pools due to the fact that it uses a single layer 2 broadcast domain as the transport network without additional layer 2 controls. Their goal is to overcome the following challenges and support the business demand:

  • The growing adoption of virtualization and cloud computing has lead the customer to approach the current VLAN limit of 4094. Layer 2 is their only way of isolating their internal consumers and most of their consumers often need multiple VLANs dedicated to their various needs, which is going to bring the customer into a hard STOP state very soon.
  • Currently, the customer is able to provide compute and storage resources on the fly every time a new consumer or project is registered or an existing project or consumer requested for additional resources. However, it has been challenging to provide network capabilities on the fly without having to re-configure their physical network infrastructure such as carving up new VLANs and so forth.
 Solution Scenario

The Customer upgraded to VMware vCloud Director 5.1 and the supporting components to take advantage of VXLANs. In this scenario, customer has re-configured the existing private clouds by switching to  VXLAN-backed instead of VLAN-backed network pools. This scenario shares the same layer 2 between the two projects or consumers, however VXLANs provide a layer 2 overlay scheme over a layer 3 network.
As outlined in the illustration above, when Consumer A’s PROD Web10 has to communicate to PROD DB10, it is done over the Org network A, which is a VXLAN-backed network. So, the MAC address frame coming from the PROD Web10 will be interpreted by VTEP1 and encapsulated with VXLAN header, VTEP1’s IP address and MAC address frames and sent over VLAN 10 onto the physical network. When the packet is received on VTEP2, the appropriate VTEP1’s frames along with the VXLAN header will be stripped off and the original packet destined to PROD DB10 will be delivered to it.

Similarly, when Consumer B’s DEVDB20 has to communicate to DEV Web20, the same process takes place except that it uses the Organization network B over VTEP2 and VTEP3.

As it can be seen the traffic for both the Tenants are sent across VLAN 10, however they are segregated with the encapsulation of Layer 2 traffic over a Layer 3 connectivity by using the appropriate VXLAN Segment ID and the header.

Configuration details of the scenario

The following table outlines the vCloud environment configured for this scenario:

Component Details
VXLAN Segment ID Pool 5000 – 8000
Multicast address range –
VXLAN Tunnel End Points (VTEPs) All the ESXi hosts are acting as VTEPs
Physical Network
  • PIM-SM enabled across all the Layer 3 Switches and Routers
  • IGMP snooping enabled across the entire Layer 2 network.
VLAN ID for VXLANs traffic VLAN 100
Clusters (associated to the respective Provider VDCs in the vCloud Director) Platinum-Cluster01Platinum-Cluster02Gold-Cluster01Gold-Cluster02Silver-Cluster01Silver-Cluster02
ESXi Hosts 50 ESXi hosts across all the Clusters
Storage Tiered across SSD, SAS 15K and 10K

The following table outlines the VXLAN configuration details of this scenario:

Component Details

  • Platinum – Cluster01
(Only hosts shown in the illustration)

  • ESXi01 – VTEP1
  • ESXi02 – VTEP2
  • ESXi03 – VTEP3
ESXi Hosts

  • ESXi01 – VTEP1
  • ESXi02 – VTEP2
  • ESXi03 – VTEP3
Virtual Machines

  • PROD Web10 (Tenant A)
  • PROD DB10 (Tenant A)
  • DEV Web20 (Tenant B)
  • DEV DB20 (Tenant B)
Organization Networks

  • Organization Network A (Tenant A)
  • Organization Network B (Tenant B)
  • VXLAN Segment ID: 5000
  • VXLAN Segment ID: 5002

In the past the customer used an individual VLAN for every Organization or vApp network being created for the projects or consumers. With very few consumers, they quickly hit the 4094 VLAN limit. By utilizing VXLAN, not only does the customer no longer have to worry about VLAN limits but they are also able to provide a larger of number of networks to many more projects or consumers on the fly without having to make changes to the underlying physical network infrastructure every time.

In this scenario, by implementing VXLAN-backed Network pool, the customer has saved 120 VLANs (one VLAN per vApp or Organization Network) across both the Consumers.

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    Raman Veeramraju