Distributed Overlay Virtual Ethernet

Distributed Overlay Virtual Ethernet (DOVE) is a tunneling and virtualization technology for computer networks, created and backed by IBM. DOVE allows creation of network virtualization layers for deploying, controlling, and managing multiple independent and isolated network applications over a shared physical network infrastructure.[1]


The tunneling format is decoupled from the logical network view offered by DOVE, and defines only the way frames are encapsulated to be transferred by the underlying network infrastructure. As a notable difference from other network virtualization solutions (such as OTV), this allows DOVE not to be limited to providing OSI layer 2 emulation only (for example, passing Ethernet frames).[1]

Logical components of the DOVE architecture are DOVE controllers and DOVE switches (abbreviated as dSwitch). DOVE controllers perform management functions, and one part of the control plane functions across DOVE switches. DOVE switches perform the encapsulation of layer 2 frames into UDP packets using the Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) frame format, and provide virtual interfaces for virtual machines to plug into, similarly to how physical Ethernet switches provide ports for network interface controller (NIC) connections. DOVE switches are running as part of virtual machine hypervisors.[1][2][3]


Primary advantages of DOVE include the following:[4]

  • No dependency on the underlying physical network and protocols
  • Use of the existing IP network infrastructure
  • No addresses of virtual machines are present in Ethernet switches, resulting in smaller MAC tables and less complex STP layouts
  • No limitations related to the Virtual LAN (VLAN) technology, resulting in more than 16 million possible separate networks, compared to the VLAN's limit of 4,000
  • No dependency on the IP multicast traffic


As of November 2013, DOVE components are implemented as part of VMware's hypervisors, while implementations for the Linux KVM and Open vSwitch are planned.[5][6]

DOVE extensions for VXLAN were merged into the Linux kernel mainline in kernel version 3.8, which was released on February 18, 2013.[7][8] Appropriate extensions to related userspace configuration utilities were added into version 3.8.0 of the iproute2 utilities, which was released on February 21, 2013.[9]

See also


  1. Liane Lewin-Eytan; Katherine Barabash; Rami Cohen; Vinit Jain; Anna Levin (August 28, 2011). "Designing Modular Overlay Solutions for Network Virtualization" (PDF). IBM Research Division. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  2. Renato Recio (2012). "Distributed Overlay Virtual Ethernet (DOVE) Networks" (PDF). IBM. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  3. Shamus McGillicuddy (September 2012). "IBM DOVE: Big Blue enters the network virtualization battleground". techtarget.com. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  4. Thomas Richter (October 21, 2013). "Software Defined Networking using VXLAN" (PDF). LinuxCon Edinburgh. IBM Research and Development, Linux Technology Center. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  5. Jack Clark (March 27, 2013). "IBM unfurls SDN network manager". The Register. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  6. "Open DOVE project proposal" (PDF). IBM System Networking. 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  7. "Linux kernel 3.8, Section 10. Networking". kernelnewbies.org. February 18, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  8. "kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git: Add DOVE extensions for VXLAN". Linux kernel source tree. kernel.org. November 20, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  9. Stephen Hemminger (February 21, 2013). "iproute2 3.8.0". LWN.net. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
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