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VIRTUAL NETWORK

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The main purpose of a virtual network is to enable a data center or service provider network to provision the most suitable and efficient networking structure for the applications it hosts – and to alter that structure as conditions warrant, using software rather than requiring physical changes in connections to hardware. The ability to virtualize workloads (applications) and to transport them across network infrastructure with minimal service degradation gave rise to the first cloud architectures.

Software and Hardware Disaggregation

Using virtual networking techniques, it has become feasible to rapidly construct logical networks that are decoupled from physical servers or networking hardware, enabling the orchestration of digital workloads across this logical space. This is also known as disaggregation, where the function of networking software is decoupled from proprietary hardware and can be deployed on any standard, commodity hardware.

The principal functions of a physical network, from the perspective of any application residing on the host, involve switches and routers at Layers 2 and 3 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, and load balancers and firewalls at Layers 4 through 7. A virtual network adapter or network interface card (NIC, although typically no longer a “card” in the sense of form factor) serves as the gateway between the server (virtual or physical) and the network.

With a virtual network, some or all of these functions are accomplished with software. For example, a virtual switchcommonly contains all the packet forwarding logic contained within a physical switch, but represented as software. That logic performs packet forwarding operations, looking up the address of a packet’s destination and sending it that direction. Breaking physical devices free from this one-to-one association with hardened addresses and endpoints, is one example of the virtualization principle of decoupling.

Virtual Network Environments

The graph of a virtual network is usually shown as bridging a span between two physical sets of addresses. For a VPN, this span is referred to as a tunnel, comprising remapped addresses. For a VXLAN used in a VM or containerization environment, where virtualized devices comprise the span, it’s called a virtual overlay.

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CLASSES OF VIRTUAL NETWORK



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