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Category: fabric

VXLAN Broadcast Domain Size Limitations

One of the attendees of my Building Next-Generation Data Center online course tried to figure out whether you can build larger broadcast domains with VXLAN than you could with VLANs. Here’s what he sent me:

I'm trying to understand differences or similarities between VLAN and VXLAN technologies in a view of (*cast) domain limitation.

There’s no difference between the two on the client-facing side. VXLAN is just an encapsulation technology and doesn’t change how bridging works at all (read also part 2 of that story).

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Routing in Data Center: What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?

Here’s a question I got from an attendee of my Building Next-Generation Data Center online course:

As far as I understood […] it is obsolete nowadays to build a new DC fabric with routing on the host using BGP, the proper way to go is to use IGP + SDN overlay. Is my understanding correct?

Ignoring for the moment the fact that nothing is ever obsolete in IT, the right answer is it depends… this time on answer(s) to two seemingly simple questions “what services are we offering?” and “what connectivity problem are we trying to solve?”.

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Do We Need Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics?

Evil CCIE left a lengthy comment on one of my blog posts including this interesting observation:

It's always interesting to hear all kind of reasons from people to deploy CLOS fabrics in DC in Enterprise segment typically that I deal with while they mostly don't have clue about why they should be doing it in first place. […] Usually a good justification is DC to support high amount of East-West Traffic....but really? […] Ask them if they even have any benchmarks or tools to measure that in first place :)

What he wrote proves that most networking practitioners never move beyond regurgitating vendor marketing (because that’s so much easier than making the first step toward becoming an engineer by figuring out how technology really works).

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Traditional Leaf-and-Spine Fabric Versus Cisco ACI

One of my subscribers wondered whether it would make sense to build a traditional leaf-and-spine fabric or go for Cisco ACI. He started his email with:

One option is a "standalone" Spine/Leaf VXLAN-with EVPN deployment based on Nexus equipment. This approach could probably be accompanied by some kind of automation like Ansible to ease operation/maintenance of the network.

This is what I would do these days if the customer feels comfortable investing at least the minimum amount of work into an automation solution. Having simpler technology + well-understood automation solution is (in my biased opinion) better than having a complex black box.

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Feedback: Data Center Infrastructure for Networking Engineers

When I created the Data Center Infrastructure for Networking Engineers webinar, I wanted to reach these goals:

  • Understand the data center acronym soup;
  • Build a conceptual framework of the data center technologies and solutions.

Every now and then I get feedback from a happy attendee telling me how the webinar helped them. Here’s what I got earlier this month:

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Vertical Integration Musings

One of my readers asked me a question that came up in his business strategy class:

Why did routers and switches end up being vertically integrated (the same person makes the hardware and the software)? Why didn't they go down the same horizontal path as compute (with Intel making chips, OEMs making systems and Microsoft providing the OS)? Why did this resemble the pre-Intel model of IBM, DEC, Sun…?

Simple answer: because nobody was interested in disaggregating them.

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Is EBGP Really Better than OSPF in Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics?

Using EBGP instead of an IGP (OSPF or IS-IS) in leaf-and-spine data center fabrics is becoming a best practice (read: thing to do when you have no clue what you’re doing).

The usual argument defending this design choice is “BGP scales better than OSPF or IS-IS”. That’s usually true (see also: Internet), and so far, EBGP is the only reasonable choice in very large leaf-and-spine fabrics… but does it really scale better than a link-state IGP in smaller fabrics?

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Video: SPB Fabric Use Cases

As part of his “how does Avaya implement data center fabrics” presentation, Roger Lapuh talked about use cases for SPB in data center fabrics.

I have no idea what Extreme decided to do with the numerous data center fabric solutions they bought in the last few years, so the video might have just a historic value at this point… but it’s still nice to see what you can do with smart engineering.

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Response: Vendors Pushing Stretched Layer-2

Got this response to my Stretched Layer-2 Revisited blog post. It’s too good not to turn it into a blog post ;)

Recently I feel like it's really vendors pushing layer 2 solutions, rather than us (enterprise customer) demanding it.

I had that feeling for years. Yes, there are environment with legacy challenges (running COBOL applications on OS/370 with emulated TN3270 terminals comes to mind), but in most cases it’s the vendors trying to peddle unique high-priced non-interoperable warez.

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Get Familiar with Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics

An attendee of my Building Next-Generation Data Center online course asked me what the best learning path might be for a total (data center) beginner that has to design and install a small leaf-and-spine fabric in a near future.

This blog post was written for ipSpace.net subscribers who want to get the most out of ipSpace.net content. If you’re only interested in free stuff, you might feel it’s a waste of your time. You’ve been warned ;)

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OpenFabric with Russ White on Software Gone Wild

Continuing the series of data center routing protocol podcasts, we sat down with Russ White (of the CCDE fame), author of another proposal: OpenFabric.

As always, we started with the “what’s wrong with what we have right now, like using BGP as a better IGP” question, resulting in “BGP is becoming the trash can of the Internet”.

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Pragmatic Data Center Fabrics

I always love to read the practical advice by Andrew Lerner. Here’s another gem that matches what Brad Hedlund, Dinesh Dutt and myself (plus numerous others) have been saying for ages:

One specific recommendation we make in the research is to “Build a rightsized physical infrastructure by using a leaf/spine design with fixed-form factor switches and 25/100G capable interfaces (that are reverse-compatible with 10G).”

There’s a slight gotcha in that advice: it trades implicit complexity of chassis switches with explicit complexity of fixed-form switches.

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Video: Automated Data Center Fabric Deployment Demo

I was focused on network automation this week, starting with a 2-day workshop and continuing with an overview of real-life automation wins. Let’s end the week with another automation story: automated data center fabric deployment demonstrated by Dinesh Dutt during his part of Network Automation Use Cases webinar.

You’ll need at least free ipSpace.net subscription to watch the video.

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How Self-Sufficient Do You Want to Be?

The first car I got decades ago was a simple mechanical beast – you’d push something, and a cable would make sure something else moved somewhere. I could also fix 80% of the problems, and people who were willing to change spark plugs and similar stuff could get to 90+%.

Today the cars are distributed computer systems that nobody can fix once they get a quirk that is not discoverable with level-1 diagnostic tools.

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