IBM System Networking Distributed Switch 5000V for VMware ESXi 5.x

Looking over the internet i have not seen lots of people talking about this so i though i can make a point of discussion for my blog post for today.

None of us may be reading this article doesnt know about VMware Distributed Switch and the features it provides. and all of us may know as well that it is not the only option available to customers today. customers using vSphere enterprise plus can have either the VMware Distributed Switch or May be the Nexus 1000v as a distributes Networking function in their vSphere Environment.  in one day not customer has 3 Choices to choose from either VMware, Cisco and now We have IBM in the picture with their release of the 5000v Distributed Switch.

The 5000V is a distributed virtual switch option for vSphere 5. It provides IBM NOS (Network Operating System) personality and functionality, and interoperates with standard vSphere 5 features.

The 5000V has two software components: a Controller and a Host Module. The Controller is an Open Virtualization Appliance (OVA) package that can be deployed as a virtual appliance on ESX 4.x or ESX 5.x Hosts. The Host Module is a VMware ESXi 5.x Offline Bundle (ZIP) that must be installed on each ESXi 5.x Host that needs to be added to an IBM vDS.

The 5000V Controller is used to create and manage one instance of the IBM vDS. The Controller closely interacts with the VMware vCenter Server for its functionality. The IBM vDS appears as just another distributed virtual switch at the vCenter Server and can be consumed using standard mechanisms familiar to vSphere administrators. For example, hosts, virtual machines, and uplinks (physical NICs) can be attached to the IBM vDS at the vCenter Server, using the vSphere Client.

as you can see one of the major requirement for this distributed switch is that customers must use the latest of vSohere Version 5.0, so if you have vsphere version prior to 5 this will not work or in a better term is not supported. and keep this point in mind it is not just only vSphere 5 but the edition has to be Enterprise plus edition since Distributed Network Switches is available in the enterprise plus edition of vSphere.

Looking @ the features this distributed switch provide. they can be basically summarized in the below table

Managed Layer 2 Distributed Virtual Switch for VMware
  • Configure and manage this Distributed Virtual Switch just like any other IBM physical switch
  • The Distributed Virtual Switch is visible to the network administrators
  • Ability to manage and troubleshoot virtual machine traffic
  • Familiar Cisco like CLI to manage the Distributed Virtual Switch
Advanced networking features
  • Private VLAN for VM traffic separation
  • ACLs for VM traffic control
  • Local (SPAN) and remote (ERSPAN) Port Mirroring for advanced VM traffic visibility and troubleshooting
  • sFlow for complete visibility into the use of networks enabling performance optimization, accounting/billing for usage, and defense against security threats
  • VM traffic statistics and VM traffic management based on IEEE 802.1Qbg
Advanced management features
  • Telnet and SSH
  • SNMP (Read and Write)
  • Per User access

a small look at the architecture of the Switch is as follows.



Using the VMware Virtual Distributed Switch (vDS) model, the IBM DS 5000V software switch modules are “distributed” to each participating VMware ESX host. Though each 5000V host module handles traffic for the local virtual machines (VMs), all distributed modules also work in unison as an aggregate virtual switching device. The 5000V solution can be roughly equated to an interconnected stack of independent switches which are unified and controlled by a single management plane.

The 5000V works with VMware vSphere and ESX 5.0 to provide an IBM Networking OS management plane, and advanced Layer 2 features in the control and data


The management plane includes an Industry-Standard Command Line Interface (ISCLI) that runs on a VMware virtual machine. It is packaged as an Open Virtual Appliance (OVA) file. The control/data plane is implemented by a software module that runs inside each participating ESX hypervisor. It is packaged as a vSphere Installation Bundle (VIB) file.

Using this VMware vDS model, the network administrator can define the 5000V at the datacenter level within the VMware vCenter. When ESX hosts in the data center join the 5000V, a virtual switch instance, or portset, is created on the host. Portsets inherit their properties from the global virtual switch. VMware vDS infrastructure synchronizes all the portsets and manages state migration during VMotion, the movement of virtual machines (VMs) within and among ESX hypervisors.


The IBM DS 5000V solution requires the following main components:
• VMware vCenter
• VMware vSphere Client
• VMware ESX 5.0
• IBM DS 5000V vDS Host Module
This is an IBM product that resides in participating ESX hypervisors on host servers within the datacenter. It implements a vDS portset as defined in the VMware vDS API and acts a virtual network switch for the given host server. At its core, it forwards frames based on destination MAC addresses, controlling Layer 2 access to an from the associated VMs. It also provides advanced switching features such as VLANs, IGMP snooping, etc. The settings for each feature are configured by the network administrator through the 5000V controller.
• IBM DS 5000V Controller
This is an IBM product than resides in a virtual machine within the datacenter. It works in conjunction with the VMware vCenter and ESX hypervisors to unify all 5000V vDS host modules into an aggregate superswitch. Through the VMware vSphere client, it provides a full ISCLI for switch configuration, operation, and the collection of switch information and statistics. All traffic to and from the controller is consolidated into single virtual NIC. This traffic includes the following:
– Management traffic for applications like Telnet, SSH, SNMP, etc.
– vSphere API traffic between the vSphere Client and the VMware vCenter.
– Traffic between controller and the virtual switch elements on the ESX hosts.


Advanced Features
The 5000V includes the following advanced Layer 2 features:
• Private VLAN
• Port Mirroring
• sFlow
• ACLs
• QoS
• LACP and Advanced Teaming
• Syslog
• EVB (802.1Qbg: VEPA, VDP, VSI Manager


The 5000V is licensed per populated CPU socket on each ESXi 5.x Host added to the IBM vDS. By default, the 5000V Controller enables a trial period of 60 days for up to a total of 8 sockets among added Hosts. A license activation key must be obtained from IBM and installed at the Controller to convert the trial into a fully licensed product.

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