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Blog Posts in February 2017

Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics versus Fabric Extenders

One of my readers wondered what the difference between fabric extenders and leaf-and-spine fabrics is:

We are building a new data center for DR and we management is wanting me to put in recommendations to either stick with our current Cisco 7k to 2k ToR FEX solution, or prepare for what seems to be the future of DC in that spine leaf architecture.

Let’s start with “what is leaf-and-spine architecture?

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Facebook Backpack Behind the Scenes

When Facebook announced 6-pack (their first chassis switch) my reaction was “meh” (as well as “I would love to hear what Brad Hedlund has to say about it”). When Facebook announced Backpack I mostly ignored the announcement. After all, when one of the cloud-scale unicorns starts talking about their infrastructure, what they tell you is usually low on detail and used primarily as talent attracting tool.

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NextGenDC: Securing a Hybrid Cloud with Matthias Luft

Imagine you were asked to migrate some of the workloads running in your data center into a public (or managed) cloud. These workloads still have to access the data residing in your data center – a typical hybrid cloud deployment.

Next thing you know you have to deal with your (C)ISO and his/her usual concerns as well as the variety of articles on tech sites stating that "security is the biggest challenge of cloud adoption".

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Q&A: Migrating to Modern Data Center Infrastructure

One of my readers sent me a list of questions after watching some of my videos, starting with a generic one:

While working self within large corporations for a long time, I am asking myself how it will be possible to move from messy infrastructure we grew over the years to a modern architecture.

Usually by building a parallel infrastructure and eventually retiring the old one, otherwise you’ll end up with layers of kludges. Obviously, the old infrastructure will lurk around for years (I know people who use this approach and currently run three generations of infrastructure).

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Video: Simplify BGP Configurations

Running BGP instead of an IGP in your leaf-and-spine fabric sounds like an interesting idea (particularly if your fabric is large). Configuring a zillion BGP knobs on every box doesn’t.

However, BGP doesn’t have to be complex. In the Simplify BGP Configurations video (part of leaf-and-spine fabric designs webinar) Dinesh Dutt explains how you can make BGP configurations simple and easy-to-understand.

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And This Is Why Relying on Linux Makes Sense

Most networking operating systems include a mechanism to roll back device configuration and/or create configuration snapshots. These mechanisms usually work only for the device configuration, but do not include operating system images or other components (example: crypto keys).

Now imagine using RFC 1925 rule 6a and changing the “configuration rollback” problem into “file system snapshot” problem. That’s exactly what Cumulus Linux does in its newest release. Does it make sense? It depends.

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Managing Network Services Configuration with Ansible

In the last few weeks I’ve seen numerous questions along the lines of “how do I manage VLANs on my switch with Ansible”. You can look at this question from two perspectives: the low-level details (which modules do I use, how do I push commands to the box…) or the high-level challenges (how do I make sure actual device state matches desired device state). Obviously I’m interested in the latter.

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