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A number of terms are used in the provider extension and in the configuration of plug-ins supporting the provider extension:

Table 7.5. Provider extension terminology
Term Description
virtual network An Networking L2 network (identified by a UUID and optional name) whose ports can be attached as vNICs to Compute instances and to various Networking agents. The Open vSwitch and Linux Bridge plug-ins each support several different mechanisms to realize virtual networks.
physical network A network connecting virtualization hosts (such as compute nodes) with each other and with other network resources. Each physical network might support multiple virtual networks. The provider extension and the plug-in configurations identify physical networks using simple string names.
tenant network A virtual network that a tenant or an administrator creates. The physical details of the network are not exposed to the tenant.
provider network A virtual network administratively created to map to a specific network in the data center, typically to enable direct access to non-OpenStack resources on that network. Tenants can be given access to provider networks.
VLAN network A virtual network implemented as packets on a specific physical network containing IEEE 802.1Q headers with a specific VID field value. VLAN networks sharing the same physical network are isolated from each other at L2 and can even have overlapping IP address spaces. Each distinct physical network supporting VLAN networks is treated as a separate VLAN trunk, with a distinct space of VID values. Valid VID values are 1 through 4094.
flat network A virtual network implemented as packets on a specific physical network containing no IEEE 802.1Q header. Each physical network can realize at most one flat network.
local network A virtual network that allows communication within each host, but not across a network. Local networks are intended mainly for single-node test scenarios, but can have other uses.
GRE network A virtual network implemented as network packets encapsulated using GRE. GRE networks are also referred to as tunnels. GRE tunnel packets are routed by the IP routing table for the host, so GRE networks are not associated by Networking with specific physical networks.
Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) network VXLAN is a proposed encapsulation protocol for running an overlay network on existing Layer 3 infrastructure. An overlay network is a virtual network that is built on top of existing network Layer 2 and Layer 3 technologies to support elastic compute architectures.

The ML2, Open vSwitch, and Linux Bridge plug-ins support VLAN networks, flat networks, and local networks. Only the ML2 and Open vSwitch plug-ins currently support GRE and VXLAN networks, provided that the required features exist in the hosts Linux kernel, Open vSwitch, and iproute2 packages.

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