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Category: fabric

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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Using EVPN in Very Small Data Center Fabrics

I had an interesting “how do you build a small fabric without throwing every technology in the mix” discussion with Nicola Modena and mentioned that I don’t see a reason to use EVPN in fabrics with just a few switches. He disagreed and gave me a few good scenarios where EVPN might be handy. Before discussing them let’s establish a baseline.

The Setup

Assume you’re building two small data center fabrics (small because you have only a few hundred VMs and two because redundancy and IT auditors).

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BGP in EVPN-Based Data Center Fabrics

EVPN is one of the major reasons we’re seeing BGP used in small- and mid-sized data center fabrics. In theory, EVPN is just a BGP address family and shouldn’t have an impact on your BGP design. In practice, suboptimal implementations might invalidate that assumption.

I've described a few EVPN-related BGP gotchas in BGP in EVPN-Based Data Center Fabrics, a section of Using BGP in Data Center Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics article.

Alex raised a number of valid points in his comments to this blog post. While they don't fundamentally change my view on the subject, they do warrant a more nuanced description. Expect an updated version of this part of the article when I return from Cisco Live Europe

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Video: Avaya [now Extreme] Data Center Solutions

I haven’t done an update on what Avaya was doing in the data center space for years, so I asked my good friend Roger Lapuh to do a short presentation on:

  • Avaya’s data center switches and their Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) fabric;
  • SPB fabric features;
  • Interesting use cases enabled by SPB fabric.

The videos are now available to everyone with a valid ipSpace.net account – the easiest way to get it is a trial subscription.

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BGP as a Better IGP? When and Where?

A while ago I helped a large enterprise redesign their data center fabric. They did a wonderful job optimizing their infrastructure, so all they really needed were two switches in each location.

Some vendors couldn’t fathom that. One of them proposed to build a “future-proof” (and twice as expensive) leaf-and-spine fabric with two leaves and two spines. On top of that they proposed to use EBGP as the only routing protocol because draft-lapukhov-bgp-routing-large-dc – a clear case of missing the customer needs.

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