VXLAN gateway overview

Virtual Extensible Local Area Network (VXLAN) is an overlay technology to create a logical Layer 2 network on top of an Layer 3 IP network.

VXLAN is supported only on ICX 7750 devices.

VXLAN is, with one exception, compliant with RFC 7348: Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network (VXLAN): A Framework for Overlaying Virtualized Layer 2 Networks over Layer 3 Networks. The exception is that RFC 7348 discusses using multicast in the underlay (Layer 3) network for forwarding overlay (Layer 2) network Broadcast, Unknown Unicast and Multicast (BUM) traffic. The FastIron VXLAN implementation uses another approach referred to as "static-ingress replication" for forwarding overlay (Layer 2) network BUM traffic.

Addressing the need for overlay networks in Layer 2 and Layer 3 data center networks that support multi-tenant environments, VXLAN functions as a framework to create a Layer 2 logical network over the existing Layer 3 infrastructure. In this way, VXLAN addresses the scalability requirements of cloud computing.

VXLAN extends the VLAN address space by adding a 24-bit segment ID called a VXLAN Network Identifier (VNI) and enables 16 million VXLAN network segments. The VNI in each frame segregates individual logical networks, allowing millions of individual Layer 2 VXLAN segments to coexist on a common Layer 3 network. Each VLAN is mapped to a unique VNI to extend the Layer 2 VLAN segment to a remote location.

The following figure depicts how VXLAN gateways are used to provide Layer 2 connectivity between two switches separated by a Layer 3 network, so that the users connected to the same VLANs on both switches have the experience of being connected to the same Layer 2 network.

Figure 102  VXLAN gateway

VXLAN Ethernet frame encapsulation

VXLAN uses a tunneling method to carry the Layer 2 overlay network traffic over the Layer 3 network. Communication is established between two tunnel endpoints called Virtual Tunnel Endpoints (VTEPs). VXLAN is a MAC Address-in-User Datagram Protocol (MAC-in-UDP) encapsulation, which encapsulates MAC frames at Layer 2 into a Layer 3 UDP header with an outer Ethernet header, outer IP header, outer UDP header, and VXLAN header. The outer IP header contains the corresponding source and destination VTEP IP addresses.

VTEPs are the nodes that provide the encapsulation and decapsulation functions and also map the tenant traffic to the virtual network and vice versa. The tenant’s Layer 2 frame is encapsulated with the Layer 3 UDP header to send it to the remote location (VTEP). The remote end decapsulates the outer header, and send the original Layer 2 packet to the remote tenant.

Figure 103  VXLAN tunneling

As VXLAN is a tunneling technique, the VXLAN gateway is required to send traffic between VXLAN and a traditional VLAN. Using VXLAN gateway mode in aggregation-switch deployments, you can establish a tunnel at Layer 2 between two VXLAN gateways and extend the VLAN over an underlying Layer 3 infrastructure. The FastIron implementation of the VXLAN gateway allows communication between the VXLAN-aware world and the non-VXLAN-aware world. The FastIron VXLAN gateway provides E-LAN (multipoint-to-multipoint) service using a full mesh connectivity between VTEPs.

The FastIron implementation of VXLAN supports the following:

  • Multiple VNIs over the same VXLAN tunnel: Ruckus supports the multiplex and demultiplex of multiple VNIs over the same VXLAN tunnel. This allows better scaling of the deployment.
  • Multiple VXLAN tunnels: Ruckus supports multiple VXLAN tunnels on a VTEP. These tunnels can be over the same or different uplink ports. However, multiple Layer 2 tunnels are supported with the following constraint:

    If two or more Layer 2 tunnels share the same outgoing interface (Layer 2 port), the outer Layer 2 header (Destination MAC, Source MAC, and VLAN header) must be the same for both tunnels. In other words, the Layer 3 outgoing interface, VRF, and the next-hop address must be the same for the two tunnels.

  • VLAN translation across VXLAN segment: Because the VLAN tag is stripped from the Layer 2 (payload) frame before the frame is encapsulated with VXLAN tunnel headers, VXLAN can be used to inter-connect the same Layer 2 subnet that is represented using different VLAN identifiers on each VTEP. For example, as shown in Figure 102, VLAN 100 on VXLAN gateway SWR1 and VLAN 200 on VXLAN gateway SWR2 are inter-connected by mapping those VLANs to the same VNI (1100).
  • Interoperation with other VXLAN implementations: The FastIron implementation of VXLAN can interoperate with the legacy VXLAN implementations of other vendors, as long as they use the IANA-assigned value of 4789 for the UDP destination port.

Unicast forwarding in VXLAN implementations

The following figure illustrates how unicast traffic is forwarded in a FastIron VXLAN implementation.
  • In the figure, VLAN 100 is mapped to VNI 864, and the VNI is extended to VTEP-1, VTEP-2, and VTEP-3.
  • Host H1 in VLAN 100 on the access side of VTEP-1 sends a packet to Host H3 in VLAN 100 on the access side of VTEP-3.
  • Host H1 knows the MAC address of Host H2 via ARP resolution.
  • When VTEP-1 tries to forward the packet sent by H1 in VNI 864, it detects that the DMAC is reachable on the tunnel to VTEP-3. It then encapsulates the packet in the VXLAN tunnel to VTEP-3 and forwards it.
  • When VTEP-3 receives the encapsulated packet, it removes the VXLAN tunnel header and forwards the payload (the inner packet) in VLAN 100 to Host H3.
Figure 104  VXLAN unicast traffic forwarding

BUM traffic forwarding in VXLAN implementations

In a FastIron VXLAN implementation, multicast traffic is forwarded using the static-ingress replication method.

The following figure illustrates how multicast traffic is forwarded in a VXLAN implementation.
  • In the figure, VLANs 100 is mapped to VNI 864, and the VNI is extended to VTEP-1, VTEP-2 and VTEP-3.
  • Host H1 in VLAN 100 on the access side of VTEP-1 sends a broadcast packet.
  • When VTEP-1 tries to forward the packet sent by H1, it attempts to flood the broadcast packet in the VXLAN segment identified by VNI 864.
  • As part of packet flooding to VNI 864, VTEP-1 encapsulates the packet in the VXLAN tunnel to each VTEP to which VNI 864 is extended (here, VTEP-2 and VTEP-3).
    • The DIP in the outer IP header is the unicast IP address.
    • The source VTEP does the replication.
  • When VTEP-2 and VTEP-3 receive the encapsulated packet, they remove the VXLAN tunnel header and flood the payload (the inner packet) VLAN 100.
Figure 105  VXLAN multicast traffic forwarding

Inner frame VLAN tagging

In the VXLAN gateway, the encapsulating VTEP strips the inner VLAN tag of the packet before forwarding it to the remote VTEP. Upon reception, the remote VTEP decapsulates the packets, and a VLAN tag is assigned to the packet based on the one-to-one mapping between the VLAN and the VNI. The assignment of a VLAN tag also depends on whether the access port at the destination is tagged or untagged. If the access port is tagged, the VLAN tag is added after decapsulation and before the frame is sent. If the access port is untagged, an untagged frame is sent to the remote tenant.

Load balancing entropy

To enable a level of entropy for the ECMP/LAG load-balancing of the VXLAN tunnel traffic across the VXLAN underlay, RFC 7348 recommends that the UDP source port number of the VXLAN tunneled packet be calculated using a hash value of the Layer 2 and Layer 3 headers of the passenger packet. The FastIron VXLAN gateway supports this approach.