Definition of virtio-networking: Combining virtualization and networking for modern IT

Network virtualization

In computing, network virtualization is the process of combining hardware and software network resources and network functionality into a single, software-based administrative entity, a virtual network. Network virtualization involves platform virtualization, often combined with resource virtualization.

Network virtualization is categorized as either external virtualization, combining many networks or parts of networks into a virtual unit, or internal virtualization, providing network-like functionality to software containers on a single network server.

In software testing, software developers use network virtualization to test software that is under development in a simulation of the network environments in which the software is intended to operate. As a component of application performance engineering, network virtualization enables developers to emulate connections between applications, services, dependencies, and end-users in a test environment without having to physically test the software on all possible hardware or system software. The validity of the test depends on the accuracy of the network virtualization in emulating real hardware and operating system.

Importance of Network Virtualisation

Network virtualization involves creating new rules for the way network services deliver. This includes software-defined data centers (SDDC), the cloud, and the edge.

Virtualization helps move networks from inflexible, inefficient, and static to optimized, agile, and dynamic. Modern virtual networks require keeping up with the demands for cloud-hosted, distributed applications while tackling cyberthreats to deliver agility and speed.

Network Virtualization enables you to deploy and update applications within minutes. This means that there is no need to spend time provisioning the infrastructure for supporting the new applications.


If we’ve learned one thing about IT at scale over the past several years, it’s that there is no “silver bullet” when it comes to choosing deployment environments. Virtualization, private cloud, public cloud, and Kubernetes have all entered the arena, but there is no clear winner—yet. Instead, IT organizations face layers of complex infrastructure technologies, each with various facets of abstraction. And their own “rules” with the added challenge of making these disparate stacks play nicely together for the benefit of the business at large.

The virtualization layer is frequently a fulcrum for deploying emerging technologies like Linux containers. And Kubernetes but the ultimate connector across all layers of a technology stack, both cloud-native and existing, is networking. All workloads are it VMs, containers or bare metal apps need to efficiently traverse these technology stacks. And reach the server’s NIC level in order to communicate with other nodes, servers, or the outside world.

In order to move these workloads fast, a variety of bespoke solutions have been developed by the network equipment providers achieving wire-speed performance. However, these solutions have developed in a non-standard manner, sometimes propagating to the workloads themselves. This is where the virtual-networking community intends to help.

Introducing virtio-networking

For much other software and hardware vendors, the virtual-networking build around virtio. A standardized open interface for virtual machines (VMs) to access simplified devices such as block storage and networking adaptors. The virtual-networking community focuses on the networking device of virtio.

Emerging applications around the virtual network

While the virtual networking device was originally developed as a network virtualization interface between physical hosts. And guests in virtual environments, a number of open sources communities have adopted this networking device as a means to address emerging networking challenges. The Linux Kernel community, the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) community, QEMU. And Also OASIS among others all lean on these specifications, broadly forming the virtual-networking community. The problems that this community aims to solve include:

  • VM network acceleration by developing an open standard interface for VM network acceleration using kernel tools, DPDK tools, and hardware acceleration techniques to offload traffic directly onto physical network interface cards (NICs).

  • Pod network acceleration to speed up networking in Kubernetes by adding dedicated layer 2 (L2) high-speed interfaces to Kubernetes pods.

  • Mixed virtual/cloud-native environment acceleration through an open standard interface for running (efficiently and swiftly) virtual machines and Kubernetes pods side-by-side.

  • Hybrid cloud acceleration via an interface to abstract away the different public and private clouds from the VMs and Kubernetes pods running on them, especially when network acceleration is required.

How does Network Virtualisation Work?

Network Virtualisation automates many of the network services previously performed manually on hardware. Network administrators can programmatically create, manage, and provide networks in software while using the hardware as a packet-forwarding backplane.

Physical network resources like virtual private networks (VPNs), load balancing, firewalling, routing. And switching, among other things,  pool together and deliver in software.

You only need Internet Protocol (IP) packet forwarding from the hardware or the physical network to achieve this. Network services distribute to a virtual layer and access via individual workloads like virtual machines.

There are different types of virtual machines available. The best virtual machines allow the network administrator to access all the aspects of a network from a single access point.

Search more in virtio and community

The challenges listed above are no small matters. They impact businesses today and, if successfully solved, will help to shape the interconnected enterprise IT world of the future. We believe that virtio is part of the solution to address these challenges, and we want to explain how and why this effort can make it a reality in the near future.