Friday, November 20, 2009

Yeah, we can do that !

Do you ever read about a new technology and go, "Man, that's so cool ! We should be doing that !". Only to be disappointed once you started digging into it a bit ?

That's exactly what happened to me after I read the following whitepaper...

Connecting to the Cloud with F5 BIG-IP Solutions and VMware VMotion

Some of you may have read my post a while back about how cool Application Delivery Controllers (aka load-balancers) are. Everything I said is probably true (note to self: reread that post and edit if necessary), but man, once you start digging into what you can do with one of those things - it strikes fear into the heart of every decent network engineer !

And now it looks like these things may bring us the holy grail of virtualization - live migration across a wide-area network ! I'm onboard !!

F5 demo'd this at VM World in late August and it's now late November. We have 4 brand new F5's that aren't in production yet, 2 in each of our data centers separated by about 60 miles. And we have plenty of VM's to throw into the mix. So I figured I'd download the configuration guide and see what it takes to set this up....oh, there's no configuration guide. Hmmm, maybe the documentation is on F5's devcentral Okay, well our F5 sales engineer is coming in today so I'll just ask him....well he didn't have very many details and he referenced the documentation on their website...which of course I can't find. And what he did tell me made me realize just how many moving parts are involved and how complex the whole setup really is. Well, this could end up being really cool stuff, but it looks like it's not quite soup yet.

And then there's the issue of whether this is the right way to solve this problem. I'm left with the feeling that this is a really ingenious solution to a problem using the tools we already have but that what we really need are some new tools !

In our case we can theoretically bridge VLANs between our data centers since we have dark fiber. This would theoretically simplify things, but we haven't done this yet because of concerns about bridging loops and broadcast storms taking down BOTH of our data centers! If we could essentially route Ethernet MAC addresses using TRILL or similar functionality developed by the IEEE - perhaps that would offer a simpler solution to this problem !

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