Virtual Switch

What Does Virtual Switch Mean?

A virtual switch (vSwitch) is a software application that allows communication between virtual machines. A vSwitch does more than just forward data packets, it intelligently directs the communication on a network by checking data packets before moving them to a destination.


Virtual switches are usually embedded into installed software, but they may also be included in a server’s hardware as part of its firmware. A virtual switch is completely virtual and can connect to a network interface card (NIC). The vSwitch merges physical switches into a single logical switch. This helps to increase bandwidth and create an active mesh between server and switches.

Techopedia Explains Virtual Switch

A virtual switch is meant to provide a mechanism to reduce the complexity of network configuration. This is achieved by reducing the number of switches that need to be managed after taking the network size, data packets and architecture into account. Because a virtual switch is intelligent, it can also ensure the integrity of the virtual machine’s profile, which includes network and security settings. This proves a big help to network administrators as moving virtual machines across physical hosts can be time-consuming and pose security risks.

A virtual switch has a few key advantages:

  • Helps in easy deployment and migration of virtual servers
  • Allows network administrators to manage virtual switch deployed through a hypervisor
  • Compared to a physical switch, it’s easy to roll out new functionality, which can be hardware or firmware related.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.