This blog is about recent updates on the Cisco Nexus 9000 series datacenter switches. This describes my view on the switches and technologies.
Nexus 9000 series is currently Cisco’s flagship on datacenter networking. This is today and still for tomorrow. Mounting the Nexus 9000 switches should be the last physical and configuration work you’ve done in the (future?) datacenter. All upcoming tasks (aka.. Configuring and provisioning the switches) should be done automatically by any automation tool. We have to move from our traditional networking tools to more automating and orchestration tools from today on. Nobody wants or has time to manually configure all these switches like in the old days.
The Nexus 9000 series switches are ready to achieve this with many on-the-box features like automation with PoAP, REST CALL with NXAPI and the “unix-way of management”. This, to program and configure the network / fabric.
As you might know, Cisco ACI is a object related product. Every object you will create has to be named with a unique name so it can be identified later. Because of the simple fact that you cannot rename objects (it’s not implemented yet) it’s highly recommended to think of a good naming convention before you start creating the first one.
If you really want to rename an earlier created object, you have to remove and recreate the object and link it again to all other linked object.
To give you a head start on the naming convention, you have to think about the following objects:
- SPINE / LEAF switch naming
- APIC Naming
- Attachable Access Entity Profile
- Link Level Policy
- Interface policy group
- Interface Selector
- Switch Selector
- Switch Profile
Creating a naming convention is network specific, but try to take the following tips in consideration:
There are options to integrate L4 – L7 devices, like firewalls or load balancers (Cisco ASA, F5, Citrix Netscaler, etc), into Cisco ACI. These integrations can be done in a managed mode, with a device package, or unmanaged mode. Both modes are available if you are using Cisco ACI with VMware vCenter integration.
When you are using Cisco ACI with Microsoft Hyper-V, you cannot integrate any L4 – L7 device yet (Q1 2016). The options to integrate these devices are not available if you select an SCVMM domain.
More to come..
Cisco ACI is a great product, which I’ve implement at some customers already. I’ve seen the product grow in the last year from something “not production ready” to an stable product which can be used in production environments. But like all new products, there are still some limitations around which can be a struggle during implementations. The VMware integration into ACI is done and complete, the Hyper-V implementation is still pretty new and some features are missing. I’m sure that the Hyper-V implementation will be more complete in the next major ACI release, but at this point in time you need to know about the limitations which are still around.
There are a lot of blog posts around about the Cisco ACI technology and design tips and tricks. If you want to know more about ACI, please read the Cisco ACI Fundamentials
This post describes your first steps to create and installation of a ACI fabric. Our example design will look like this:
Our network will exist in only one datacenter with two spine switches, two leaf switches and two APIC controllers. The spine and leaf switches are connected with 40Gb/s, the APIC controllers are multihomed with 1Gb/s links.
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This book describes all basics about SDN. It’s a great book to read if you’re thinking about buying or selling any SDN solution (not specific any Cisco product).
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