Arista Networks' newly released VM Tracer software integrates Arista's top-of-rack switches with VMware's vCenter to fully automate network provisioning based on defined configurations in vCenter. VM Tracer simplifies virtual machine management by applying network configurations on the switch port connecting to the VMware hypervisor and by ensuring that the configuration options such as VLANs are populated throughout the network. Equally important, VM Tracer lets network administrators see, in real time, which switch ports the hypervisors and virtual machines are connected to. VM Tracer is available with a software license in Arista's Extensible Operating System (EOS) version 4.5. EOS runs on Arista's 7000 switch family.
To get the most out of virtualization, IT needs automate as many operations as possible, such as moves, adds and deletes. Manual operations take time and are error-prone. If IT wants to move virtual machines for disaster recovery and reduce scheduled downtime, automatic network configuration is the best option for fast and efficient moves. VM Tracer automatically tracks the hypervisors and network ports where virtual machines are running and can apply VLAN policies in real time.
Each switch is configured to work with up to four vCenter servers so that you can have multi-tenant operation in your data center. Arista's switch integrates with VMware systems using the hypervisor vendor's API. When a new ESX server comes online, VM Tracer automatically learns which switch ports it is connected to. As virtual machines come online, the switch discovers which ESX server is connected and queries vCenter for other host information, such as server model, CPU type, etc. Similarly, virtual machines are discovered and switch port mappings are created in vCenter and on the switches. Based on the network configuration in vCenter, the Arista switches add the correct VLAN to the ESX server port so the host can come online. QoS and access control lists are planned for a later release of Arista's operating system.
VM Tracer also maintains the VLANs throughout the network by automatically adding and pruning VLANS as needed so that all hosts on a VLAN can communicate. Network administrators no longer have to ensure that the proper VLANs are applied throughout the network. Arista does not create or manage routed IP subnets, as that can cause instability in the layer-three network. However, virtual machines can communicate with another server over IP if it has an IP address assigned statically or though DHCP. Network administrators can also check the status of each machine. For example, they can identify whether it's running normally or being moved. However, there is no GUI for VM Tracer yet, so administrators have to use Arista's command line tools.
Unlike Cisco's Nexus 1000v, which replaces VMware's virtual switch, or the open vSwitch, which works with Xen and Linux Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM), Arista provides management and configuration options normally found in physical switches. This integration of switches and hypervisors is the beginning of more tight coupling between the physical switch network and virtual machines, enabling dynamic configuration. We can expect to see more switch integration with hypervisors from other vendors.