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10 Tips You Should Know about Cisco UCS

July 29 2013 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Cisco Technology - IT News

Cisco UCS is a model-driven server management system designed to reduce hardware and connectivity constraints, simplify server lifecycle management, and provide an agile infrastructure to support cloud computing. Based on a 10-Gigabit Ethernet-FCoE unified fabric, UCS greatly reduces the number of server connections and access-layer switches by consolidating compute resources around a unified I/O fabric that supports network, storage, and management traffic simultaneously. What tips you should know about the exact Cisco UCS?

Cisco-UCS.jpg

Here 10 Tips to Know about Cisco UCS

1. The most important feature of UCS is its management architecture.  The hardware was all designed with unified management in mind in order to reduce the administrative overhead of today’s server environments.  As companies move to more highly virtualized environments and cloud architectures, automation and orchestration becomes key.  UCS provides the management and provisioning tools at a hardware level to quickly realize the benefits of these types of environments and maximize the inherent cost reductions.

2. UCS is not just about blades.  The management and I/O infrastructure is designed from the ground up to manage the entire server infrastructure including rack-mount servers.  While blade adoption rates continue to grow, 60% of all servers are still rack-mount.  UCS’s ability to manage both rack-mount and blade servers under one platform is a key differentiator with major ROI benefits.  This ability will be available by the end of the calendar year.

3. UCS is based on industry standards such as the 802 Ethernet standards and x86 hardware architecture, making it vendor neutral and fully compatible with other systems.  The UCS system is interoperable with any existing infrastructure and can be tied into management and monitoring applications already being utilized.

4. Using the Virtual Interface Card (VIC) or Generation 1 Converged Network Adapters (CNA) from Emulex or Qlogic, UCS has a unique capability of detecting network failures and fail traffic paths in hardware on the card.  This allows network administrators to design and configure network failover end-to-end, ensuring consistent policies and bandwidth utilization.  Additionally this unique feature provides faster failover and higher redundancy than other systems.

5. The management infrastructure of UCS is designed to allow an organization to provision and manage the system in the way that most closely fits its process.  If a more dynamic process is desired, UCS allows a single administrator to cross traditional boundaries in order to increase operational flexibility.  If the current organizational structure is rigid and changes are not desired, UCS provides tight Role Based Access Control (RBAC) tools to maintain strict boundaries that match the current customer environment.  If an organization is looking to UCS to provide an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) type environments, the benefits of UCS can be extended into custom self-service portals using the UCS XML interface.

6. UCS reduces infrastructure components and costs by providing advanced tools for I/O consolidation.  The UCS system is designed to converge disparate I/O networks onto a single Ethernet infrastructure.  This consolidation is not limited to FCoE deployments; it extends these benefits to NFS, iSCSI, RDMA and any other protocol utilizing Ethernet for Layer 2 communication.

7. Current UCS hardware provides up to 80Gbps of converged I/O to each chassis of 4-8 blades.  This is done using a pair of redundant I/O modules which both operate in an active fashion.  This is not a bandwidth limitation of the mid-plane which was designed for 40Gbps Ethernet and above.  Future I/O modules will provide additional bandwidth to the chassis and blades as data center I/O demands increase.

8. The single-point-of-management for the server access layer provided by UCS can be extended to the VMware virtual switching infrastructure, further reducing administrative overhead.  Using Pass-Through Switching (PTS) on UCS, the VMware virtual switching environment can be managed through the UCS service profile the same way physical blades are managed.

9. Memory extension on the UCS B250-M1 and B250-M2 blades provide industry leading 384GB of memory density for 2 socket servers.  Moreover, because this increased density is gained through additional DIMM slots, lower density DIMMS can be used at significantly lower cost to reach up to 194GB of memory.  In addition to the M250 blades, the B440 adds support for the 2 or 4 Xeon 7500 processors with 4, 6, or 8 cores depending on processor model.

10. While the UCS architecture was designed to amplify the benefits of server virtualization and Virtual Desktop infrastructures (VDI), the platform is standards based and can be used with any bare metal x86 based operating system such as Windows, SUSE/Red Hat Linux, etc.  UCS can operate with any mix of server operating systems desired for any given customer.

More Related Cisco UCS Info:

Basic Tech Tips for Configuring UCS with VMware vSphere

Cisco Unified Computing System: UCS Components

Read more

What’s the Difference Between the 802.11ac & the 802.11n?

July 23 2013 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

You're probably familiar with 802.11a/b/g/n, all of which are protocols for the 802.11 wireless networking standards. You can safely bet that any device with Wi-Fi connectivity, from your laptop to your smartphone, supports at least wireless B or G, and if it came out within the past few years, it should support wireless N. 802.11n (or the latest draft of it, 802.11n-2009) is the fastest of the ones that are currently widely available. 802.11ac is a new Wi-Fi protocol and is intended to be the natural successor to 802.11n. You may have heard it called "5G Wi-Fi" or "Gigabit Wi-Fi." 

Compared with the current 802.11n, what the new 802.11ac will bring to us? What some things you should consider while investing the 802.11ac? There are some main differences you need to know.

802.11ac Compatibility

802.11ac-Compatibility.jpg
The first thing to get out of the way is - like past Wi-Fi standards - 802.11ac is backwards compatible with 802.11b, g and n. This means you can buy an 802.11ac-equipped device and it will work just fine with your existing router. Similarly you can upgrade to an 802.11ac router and it will work happily with all your existing devices. That said you will need both an 802.11ac router and an 802.11ac device to enjoy the standard’s biggest benefits. And those begin with…


802.11ac
 Speed

802.11ac-Speed.jpg

With any new wireless technology speed is always the headline-grabbing feature but, as with every wireless standard to date, the figures tossed around can be highly misleading. 

1.3 gigabits per second (Gbps) is the speed most commonly cited as the 802.11ac standard. This translates to 166 megabytes per second (MBps) or 1331 megabits per second (Mbps). It is vastly quicker than the 450Mbit per second (0.45Gbps) headline speeds quoted on the highest performing 802.11n routers.

So wireless ac is roughly 3x as fast as wireless n? No. 

These figures are ‘theoretical maximums’ that are never close to being realised in real world scenarios. In our experience wireless n performance tends to top off around 50-150Mbit and our reviews of draft 802.11ac routers have typically found performance to be closer to 250-300Mbit. So 2.5x faster when close to your router is a good rule of thumb (though far more at distance, which we'll come to shortly). 

Happily this gain is likely to increase as 802.11ac devices advance. Wireless 802.11n supports a maximum of four antennas at roughly 100Mbit each, where 802.11ac can support up to eight antennas at over 400Mbit each. 

Smaller devices like smartphones tend to fit only a single antenna, but it gets even bigger in tablets (typically two to four antennas) and laptops and televisions (four to eight). In addition no 802.11ac router released so far has packed more than six antennas. 

A final point: beware routers claiming speeds of 1,750 Gigabits. It is a marketing ploy where the manufacturer has added the 1.3Gbit theoretical maximum speed of 802.11ac to the 450Mbit theoretical maximum speed of 802.11n. Sneaky. 

802.11ac Range 

802.11ac-Range.png

While speed is what will likely sell 802.11ac routers, range is equally important. Here wireless ac excels. 

The first point to make is the 802.11ac standard lives entirely in the 5GHz spectrum. While some more modern routers broadcast 802.11n in 5GHz as well as 2.4GHz they remain relatively rare.  

Consequently, the 5GHz spectrum tends to be 'quiet', meaning much less interference from neighborhood Wi-Fi. This more than counters the fact that, in lab conditions, 5GHz signals do not actually broadcast as far as 2.4GHz signals. 5GHz is also necessary to support the faster speeds of wireless ac. 


The second key factor is 802.11ac makes ‘beamforming’ a core part of its spec. Rather than throw out wireless signal equally in all directions, WiFi with beamforming detects where devices are and intensifies the signal in their direction(s). 

This technology has been around in proprietary form (it made a huge impact in the D-Link DIR-645), but now it will be inside every 802.11ac router and every 802.11ac device. 

The combination of these two technologies is profound. This was most clearly seen with the Linksys EA6500 which hit speeds of 30.2MBps (241.6Mbit) when connecting to a device just two metres away, but still performed at 22.7MBps (181.6Mbit) when 13 metres away with two solid walls in the way. By contrast Linksys’ own EA4500 (identical except being limited to 802.11n) managed 10.6MBps (84.8Mbit) dropping to 2.31MBps (18.48Mbit) under the same conditions. 

The real world result is 802.11ac not only enables you to enjoy the fastest 100Mbit (and beyond) fibre optic broadband speeds all over the house, but to enjoy it along with multiple streams of Full HD content, super low latency gaming and blazing fast home networking all at the same time. 

802.11ac Availability

Here comes the first caveat. The announcement of the Wi-Fi Alliance’s 802.11ac certification programme means 802.11ac equipped products can now be certified, but that process will take time as thousands of chipsets need to be tested. 

Of course some manufacturers have jumped the gun. The 802.11ac routers we have tested are sold as ‘Draft 802.11ac’ products and while many may become certified through a firmware update, it is not guaranteed. Draft 802.11ac products are also not guaranteed to perform optimally with other Draft 802.11ac products - especially between different manufacturers. Certified products are. 

The good news is the first certified chipsets are already creeping out and they come from the likes of Intel, Qualcomm, Cisco, Realtek, Marvell, Broadcom and Samsung - manufacturers with extensive networking expertise and who licence their chipsets to others. For example Intel has only one chipset certified - the ‘Dual band Wireless 7260’-but it is expected to be at the heart of most Haswell-powered Ultrabooks. The highest profile of these to date is the new 2013 MacBook Air. 
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Furthermore, adoption should be fast. The first 802.11ac routers carried a hefty premium, but this has dropped quickly to the point where price shouldn’t be a barrier to anyone keen to hop onto the bandwagon. In addition 802.11ac is extremely efficient and it brings power savings compared to 802.11n, meaning it is ideal for mobile devices. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Mega phones already pack wireless ac. 

As such, while 802.11ac products are only trickling out at present, it will turn into a tidal wave by early 2014. 

Wait for 802.11ac?

All of which begs the question: should I now buy any device that isn’t 802.11ac compatible? The short answer is no. If you live alone in a small flat where you have no signal problems 802.11n may serve all your needs, but in larger, multi-user homes and homes with network attached storage the benefits of 802.11ac are simply too good to miss out on. Especially when buying devices you expect to keep for a number of years. 

The longer answer is 802.11ac is a revolution that will be hard to actively avoid. Wireless ac will be built into most laptops and phones within the next 12 months and routers will increasingly come with it (though ISPs are typically slow to adopt new standards in the routers they give out, so plug an ac router into theirs and switch off their wireless to get around it). 

It will take time and money for your home to be fully 802.11ac compatible, but it will be worth it.

---Original Reference from http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/802-11ac-vs-802-11n-what-s-the-difference

More Related Networking Reviews:

Wi-Fi Alliance Announces 802.11ac Certification

802.11ac Wi-Fi vs. the 802.11n

Read more

How to Set up Cisco 7937G IP Phone?

July 22 2013 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Cisco IP Phones

The Cisco 7937 IP Phone is a conference room phone that offers superior wideband voice and microphone quality, with simplified wiring and administrative cost benefits. A full-featured, IP-based, hands-free conference station, the new Cisco Unified IP Conference Station 7937G is designed for use on desktops, in conference rooms, and in executive suites.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR SETUP

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CISCO IP PHONE/STATICALLY ASSIGN IP

Select your phone model and follow the corresponding instructions.

Cisco Unified IP Phone 7940 & CISCO IP Phone 7960

  1. Press the Settings button on the telephone
  2. Press 3 on the keypad
  3. Press 6 on the keypad and note the IP Address
  4. Scroll to Default Router 1 and note the Default Router
  5. Scroll to Subnet Mask and note the subnet mask
  6. Scroll to TFTP Server 1 and note the TFTP server
  7. Press 30 on the keypad
  8. Press the Edit softkey
    • If you do not see this softkey press *, *, #
  9. Select "No"
  10. For the following instructions, use the "Edit" softkey to enter the requested information. If you do not see the "Edit" softkey press *, *, #
  11. Press 6 on the keypad and enter the IP Address
  12. Scroll to Default Router 1 and enter the Default Router
  13. Scroll to Subnet Mask and enter the subnet mask
  14. Scroll to TFTP Server 1 and enter the TFTP server 

Cisco Unified IP Phone 7941, IP Phone7961 & Cisco 7970 IP Phone

  1. Press the Settings button on the telephone
  2. Press 2 on the keypad
  3. Press 6 on the keypad and note the IP Address
  4. Scroll to Default Router 1 and note the Default Router
  5. Scroll to Subnet Mask and note the subnet mask
  6. Scroll to TFTP Server 1 and note the TFTP server
  7. Press 22 on the keypad
  8. Press the Edit softkey
    • If you do not see this softkey press *, *, #
  9. Select "No"
  10. For the following instructions, use the "Edit" softkey to enter the requested information. If you do not see the "Edit" softkey press *, *, #
  11. Press 6 on the keypad and enter the IP Address
  12. Scroll to Default Router 1 and enter the Default Router
  13. Scroll to Subnet Mask and enter the subnet mask
  14. Scroll to TFTP Server 1 and enter the TFTP server 

More Related Cisco IP Phone Topics:

Cisco Unified IP Phones, CP-7937G-Well Designed for Conference

Two Smart Ways to Configure Cisco IP Phones

How to Connect Cisco IP Phones?

Cisco IP Phone Recommendation: Cisco Unified IP Phone 7942G-Enhanced Sound Quality

Top 5 VoIP Concepts to Know for CCNA Voice—VoIP Basic for CCNA Voice Exam

How to Configure a Cisco Unified IP Phone 7921 with Call Manager Express?

Read more

How to Configure Cisco IP Phones?

July 17 2013 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Cisco IP Phones

How to configure a Cisco 7960 IP Phone? Here a full guide may help you step by step.

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  1. Click the “Settings” button.
  2. Use the scrolling arrows in the center to go down to the last selection, which is “Unlock Config” and press select.
  3. The screen will then prompt you for a password.  The password for these particular phones is “cisco” in all lowercase letters.  Once done typing in the password click the “Accept” button.
  4. Keep in mind that any time you leave the “Settings” screen you will be prompted for administrator password.
  5. Next scroll up to the “Network Configuration” selection and press select.
  6. On this screen you will see all the parameters to configure the network.  First you must scroll down to the field which asks if you want “DCHP Enabled”.  You should select “Yes” and then hit “Save”.
  7. Then configure the TFTP manually. Then click the “Save” button. Jump to step 12.
  8. If you selected “No” in step 6, then you can scroll up to the IP Address field and hit the “Edit” button.
  9. Now enter in the IP address assigned to the phone and hit the “Accept” button.
  10. Repeat the previous step for the Subnet Mask, TFTP, Default Router1, and DNS Server 1 fields.
  11. Once you are done click the “Save” button.
  12. You will now be brought back to the “Settings” screen, which you will next select “SIP Configuration”.
  13. Now select “Line 1 Settings”.
  14. Under the “Name” field type in the name of the line.  This will be the name displayed on the phone to distinguish between different lines.
  15. The next field is the “Authentication Name”, which should contain the username entered in the SER.
  16. The following field is “Authentication Password”, which is where the password for the SER user should be entered.
  17. The “Display Name” field should contain the name that will be shown when dialing another IP phone.
  18. The “Proxy Address” field should contain the DNS name for the SER.
  19. The “Proxy Port” should have the value 5060 entered.
  20. Once all the SIP settings have been entered click the “Back” button until you get to the main screen.
  21. You should now be ready to place calls with the Cisco IP Phone.

 

More Related Cisco IP Phone Guides:

Two Smart Ways to Configure Cisco IP Phones

How to Configure a Cisco Unified IP Phone 7921 with Call Manager Express?

Top 5 VoIP Concepts to Know for CCNA Voice—VoIP Basic for CCNA Voice Exam

DHCP Option 150 & DHCP Option 66

Read more

Introducing The New Cisco ISR 4451-X Router

July 12 2013 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Cisco Routers

 

The New Cisco ISR 4451-X Router---ENABLING THE ULTIMATE APPLICATION EXPERIENCE

Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) are built on 30 years of our innovation and product leadership.

The Cisco 4451-X Integrated Services Router revolutionizes the delivery of applicationaware services in a branch-office environment. This platform extends the Cisco ISR Family by providing Gigabit performance with extensive Layer 7 services hosted internally to the branch office while maximizing operating expenses (OpEx) savings.

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The Cisco 4451-X offers a multicore CPU architecture running modular Cisco IOS XE Software that quickly adapts to the changing needs of your branch-office environment, and enables IT to roll out services at the speed of business. The separation of the control and data planes provides the ability to deliver application-aware network services while maintaining a stable platform and a high level of performance during periods of heavy network load. With the ability to integrate application-aware services and the ability to scale performance without a complete equipment upgrade, the Cisco 4451-X offers exceptional total cost of ownership (TCO) savings and network agility through the intelligent integration of market-leading security, unified communications, and application services.

Product Overview

The Cisco 4451-X offers encryption acceleration, voice- and video-capable architecture, application firewall, call processing, and embedded services. In addition, the platform supports a range of wired connectivity options such as T1/E1, T3/E3, and fiber Gigabit Ethernet. This platform offers superior performance and flexibility for network deployments across large and medium-sized enterprise offices.

Key Business Benefits

Cisco ISRs provide superior services integration and agility. Designed for scalability, the modular architecture of this platform enables you to evolve and adapt with your growing business needs. The business benefits of the Cisco 4451-X include the following:

Rich services integration: The Cisco 4451-X Router offers services integration with voice, video, security, data, and embedded services.

Pay-as-you-grow services: The Cisco 4451-X industry-first internal services plane allows for remote installation of application-aware services without compromise. Applications run and are managed identically to their counterparts in dedicated appliances.

High performance with integrated services: The Cisco 4451-X enables deployment in high-speed WAN environments with concurrent services enabled up to 2 Gbps.

Network agility: The Cisco 4451-X gives you the performance and services needed to accommodate the changes in the business environment brought about by the migration to cloud-based services.

Application aware: The Cisco 4451-X provides comprehensive application services for visibility, control, and optimization to enable customers to successfully deploy, monitor, and troubleshoot applications from anywhere.

Pervasive security: The Cisco 4451-X enables organizations to extend the Internet edge to the branch office with industry-leading VPN, including the FlexVPN unified configuration, robust threat defense with firewall and intrusion-prevention services, and consistent policy enforcement with Cisco TrustSec security.

Investment protection: The Cisco 4451-X maximizes investment protection by supporting a rich set of Cisco IOS XE Software features delivered in a single, universal image.

Cisco ISR 4451-X Positioning

With a unique combination of services and performance flexibility, the Cisco ISR 4451-X fills a critical role in the Cisco ISR portfolio. The 4451-X brings the best of the rich services offered by the Cisco Integrated Services Routers Generation 2 (ISR G2) portfolio and the hardware-based performance of the Cisco ASR 1000 Aggregation Services Router to a platform designed for services deployment into a high-speed WAN environment.

Cisco Services for the Branch Office

Services from Cisco and our certified partners can help you transform the branch-office experience and accelerate business innovation and growth with Borderless Networks. We have the depth and breadth of expertise to create a clear, replicable, optimized branch-office footprint across technologies that will help you:

Increase the accuracy, speed, and efficiency of deployment

Improve operational efficiency, save money, and mitigate risk

Continuously improve performance

 

More Related Cisco Router Topics:

Cisco Branch Routers, Accelerate Your WAN Performance

Cisco ISR-AX: Cheaper Branch Router with Bundled Layer 4-7 Services

Cisco Delivers “Monster” Catalyst Switch, Routers for SDN Environments

Cisco ISR 4451-X, Prepared for Future Branch Network Needs

 

Read more

SDNs: 8 Key Considerations Before You Make the Leap

July 9 2013 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

Software-defined networks (SDN) aren’t for everybody. Through programmability and automation, they promise to make IT life easier. But depending on your IT shop, the benefit may not be worth the effort… or investment.SDN-strategy.jpg

There are eight considerations for IT shops evaluating SDNs, according to IT management software company Solar Winds. The checklist was compiled from interactions with customers considering or inquiring about SDNs:  

1) The industry in which the organization is operating

SDNs work for cloud providers or for any organization that experiences dramatically scaling workloads, says Sanjay Castelino, vice president and market leader of SolarWinds’ network management business. Financial services companies and retail fall into that category, where “the dynamic nature of the business drives IT to be flexible,” Castelino says.  

Some that do not fit this mold are publishing and healthcare, he says, two industries that are relatively stable, and not launching or moving around application workloads every day. “Their environments are not as dynamic,” Castelino says.  

2) The size of an organization’s network

While there is not a distinct bare metal server or virtual machine threshold for implementing an SDN or not, the rule of thumb is hundreds of IP addresses.

“For 50 IP addresses, it’s not worth the change,” he says. “For hundreds of IP addresses, you might need the automation.”
Castelino recommends doing capacity planning before considering SDNs.

3) The level of complexity of an organization’s network

If there are requirements for a lot of network slicing or segmentation for security and isolation, you might be a good candidate for an SDN. If there are lots of virtual LANs to configure and manage, or there are VLANs that require more automation than others, SDNs might be a good fit.

But change shouldn’t be made just for the sake of it, Castelino says.

“You don’t want to make changes that break things,” he says. “Policy is not a simple task to go implement. Have to have someone deeply steeped in network engineering.”

And you have to validate and test the environment multiple times, he adds.   

4) The Dynamic nature of an organization’s applications and workloads

This goes back to consideration No. 1: Are you a cloud operator or a hardback book publisher? How often are you launching new applications and closing others? How often are you moving workloads around? Is your environment static and predictable, or always changing, always moving and unpredictable?

5) The number of virtual machines within an organization’s network

“If you’re not at a few hundred, you’re probably early,” Castelino says. He reiterates that if an organization is running hundreds of workloads, it might be worth taking a look at SDNs. Below that level, and with SDN’s immaturity, it might be “way too early” to look at.

6) The organization’s need for agility, flexibility and scalability within the network

See Nos. 4 and 1: If you have a business or IT environment that scales quickly and changes dynamically, you want SDN. But the eventual ease of operations will come with some initial work. The time it takes to get into SDN is not small today, Castelino notes – it’s still at the bleeding edge of the technology curve.

“Network engineering skills and capital resources are going to be key,” he says. “It could be an expensive proposition so you need to ensure value on the other side.”

7) The organization’s need to simplify security measures and control access to applications

The benefit of SDN is that things get done the same way all the time, through policy, even though the environment is dynamic and always changing. Security and network access control in a dynamic environment can be a nightmare. It’s important to get policy enforcement right in this regard not only to ease operation but to ensure information stays where it should.   

8) The organization’s access to personnel and capital resources

If an IT shop doesn’t have network engineering expertise, or a personnel is stretched thin, SDN is not the project to undertake, Castelino says.

“There will be lots of bumps in the road,” he says. “It’s going to be a lot of work and take time.”

SDN deployments are done in parallel with the production environment, test, evaluated, validated and tested again before they are cut over to the production network. It takes time, people and money.

In summary, SDN holds a lot of promise. There are a lot of problems it can solve… but also a lot it can start if the environment is not conducive to the effort and undertaking to transition to an SDN-programmable and automated IT operation.

“The hype cycle can sometimes lead to an ugly bursting of the bubble,” Castelino says. “SDN has its purpose. But if it is marketed as a panacea for everything under the sun, you’ll see a lot of dramatic failures. It’s not ready for everyone but some can get a lot of value out of it. You just need to go in with eyes open.”

Review resources from http://www.networkworld.com/news/2013/070213-sdn-271479.html

More Related:

12 Big Proposals for SDN IT Buyers

Read more

Cisco Accelerates SDN Strategy with Dynamic Fabric Automation

July 4 2013 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Networking

Note: The original version of this article indicated that VXLAN was used for tunneling. As per Cisco's remarks in the comments section, Cisco is using a proprietary tagging encapsulation protocol. The article has been updated for accuracy and to express the author's views about proprietary protocols.

Cisco Systems' SDN strategy is taking shape via its announcement of Dynamic Fabric Automation. DFA is a data center fabric that uses an overlay network to provide orchestration, multitenancy and operational visibility. VMware, Juniper and Alcatel's Nuage also offer network overlays, but DFA has one significant difference: hardware integration in the physical network devices to support bare-metal servers or other physical devices.

DFA is orchestration software using a software network controller to manage a tunneling overlay network using a proprietary 24-bit tag in the Ethernet header to signal tunnel membership over the Fabric Path-based fabric to an endpoint.

Cisco recommends using Nexus gear deployed in a Spine-and-Leaf configuration, though it's not required. This appears to be a workaround for the lack of entropy in the Ethernet header, which would cause poor load balancing in MLAG network designs common in today's networks.

Announced at Cisco Live in Orlando Florida, this is the first demonstration of Cisco's SDN strategy, which Cisco is calling "Application-Centric Infrastructure."

Tunnel Management

DFA uses Cisco's Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) as a network controller for the tunnel overlay and manages all the physical and software devices in the Unified Fabric as a distributed control plane. Note that Cisco disagrees with the use of the term "controller" to describe the DCNM. It calls it a Centralized Point of Management (CPoM). Cisco's reasoning is described in the comments section.

DFA-Architecture.png

DFA works at the device level through an existing feature in NX-OS called Configuration Port Profiles. The DFA controller applies port profiles to logical ports in the Nexus 1000V switch on hypervisor platforms and to the physical leaf-node switches. In this way, both physical and virtual devices can connect using an overlay network.

This control of the network edge, plus integration with cloud platforms such as OpenStack, provides the control for multitenant data centers. DFA enables multitenancy through the underlay network by managing all device configurations and by the use of proprietary overlay networking to isolate traffic.

The DCNM knows the location of endpoints and can graphically display the network slice of each tenant in the architecture, which simplifies troubleshooting and improves network visibility.

Cisco uses the misnomer of "Workload Aware Fabric Network" for this feature. The term implies that the network is adaptively handling traffic flows. In reality, the network controller knows the locations of servers and the network devices that are in the path.

The unified fabric is configured to support a distributed gateway where all leaf nodes share the gateway IP and MAC address for a given subnet. This enables transparent layer-2 functions across all the leaf nodes while also providing layer-3 routing at the network edge.

ARP traffic is terminated on each leaf and BUM traffic is significantly suppressed. Internally, the underlay uses /32 routing for each host to support dynamic L2 mobility at the edge of the network.

DFA-Endpoints-copy-1.png

DFA Endpoints Source: Greg Ferro

It's not clear which specific Nexus devices support DFA today. As mentioned, Cisco recommends a Leaf/Spine design using an ECMP network core (FabricPath) between the spine and leaf nodes, which is only supported on specific switch models. DFA also uses iBGP to propagate some configuration data between elements of the tunnel fabric (although it's not yet clear what exactly this data is).

Cisco Plays To Its Strengths

It has been clear for some time that Cisco has not been leading Software Defined Networking technology and, to some extent, lost control of the SDN debate. It's trying to get it back. Cisco has started using a marketing term "Application-Centric Infrastructure" instead of "Software Defined Networking" and that message was consistently repeated at Cisco Live.

With DFA, Cisco is the only vendor today with a strategy to orchestrate physical tunnelling functions in network hardware (albeit with a proprietary mechanism with poor interoperability) with software network agents such as the Nexus 1000V.

This allows the deployment of overlay networks that connect both virtualized platforms such as OpenStack or VMware to non-virtualized devices and servers. Instead of supporting virtual workloads in a cloud platform like vCloud or OpenStack, Cisco can support any workload, anywhere.

This embracing of non-cloud systems will be attractive to many customers and attacks a weakness in existing software overlays such as Nicira, Contrail and Nuage that don't provide support for legacy network integration.

DFA looks to be a strong product that certainly meets customer needs, goes beyond competitive products and plays to Cisco's strengths integrating the physical and virtual networks.

Unfortunately, the choice of a non-standard and proprietary encapsulation is a significant drawback. While some customers may not be concerned about the use of proprietary technology, I recommend DFA be avoided because of it.

It's also clear that Cisco is betting a great deal on its Insieme project, which may offer a better solution for similar use cases. Cisco did not clearly explain Insieme at Cisco Live, so customers will have to wait for more information before making concrete plans.

About the author: Greg Ferro is a freelance Network Architect and Engineer. 

---News from http://www.networkcomputing.com/

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Cisco Refreshes Campus Switching, Including Catalyst 6800 Core Chassis

July 3 2013 , Written by Cisco & Cisco Router, Network Switch Published on #Cisco Switches - Cisco Firewall

Cisco unveiled a refresh of its campus switching and enterprise routing products at Cisco Live this week, highlighted by the Catalyst 6800 series, a big brother to the Catalyst 6500 that is compatible with the older switch's existing supervisor modules and line cards.

Cisco-catalyst-6800-series.jpg

The new Catalyst 6807 is a 10/40/100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) modular switch with 11.4 Tbps of total throughput and 880 Gbps capacity per slot. It has five times the performance and six times the capacity of the venerable Catalyst 6500. Because it is compatible with the modules designed for the Catalyst 6500, this new switch hits the market with all the advanced services that customers usually have to wait a couple years for, such as the Wireless Services Module and Multiprotocol Label Switchingsupport.

"The Catalyst 6500 has an 80 Gb-per-slot limit, so they just couldn't work around that," said Andre Kindness, senior analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. "So they came out with the 6800. The chassis had to change to accommodate 100 Gb throughput."

Kindness said the Catalyst 6800's compatibility with modules from the 6500 offers customers a new level of investment protection.

"This is the first time I've seen a vendor come out with a new chassis and be able to create a switch with higher speeds without having to build new modules," he said.

Switch to run on upgraded Supervisor Engine

The Catalyst 6807 will run on the Supervisor Engine 2T (Sup 2T) module, which was introduced as the next-generation supervisor for the Catalyst 6500 two years ago, said Inbar Lasser-Raab, Cisco's senior director of enterprise network marketing. Cisco has upgraded the software on the Sup 2T for the new chassis.

Paris-based utility giant EDF plans to adopt the Catalyst 6807 in a large network refresh. "We have a big project to replace all of the networks in our nuclear power plants, hydro-power plants and thermal power plants. We chose to place the Catalyst 6800 at the heart of this network," said Dominique Massoni, senior ICT architect for the global core at EDF.

Don Prince, senior IT architect with Atlanta-based Southern Company, said he appreciated "being able [to] use the same services and take advantage of the same line cards and other equipment [from the Catalyst 6500] that is compatible with the 6800. Investment protection is important to us."

Additionally, Cisco introduced a semi-fixed form factor model Catalyst 6880, a 10 GbE switch designed for midmarket customers who want a switch with moderate 10 GbE density and some advanced services. The Catalyst 6880 is a 4 rack-unit switch with 16x10 GbE fixed ports and half slots that can service an additional 80x10 GbE ports.

Wiring closet device optimized for campus

Cisco also announced a wiring closet device, the Catalyst 6800ia (Instant Access), a 1 rack-unit device with 48 GbE ports that extends the services and the image of a Catalyst 6500 or Catalyst 6800 to the access layer of a network.

"It's analogous to a [Nexus 2000 fabric extender], except that it's optimized for the campus, with features like PoE [Power over Ethernet]," said Rob Soderbery, senior vice president of Cisco's enterprise networking group.

Unlike the Nexus 2000, which extends the ports of a Nexus 5000 or 7000 data center switch to the top of a rack, the Catalyst 6800ia virtually adds ports to the core Catalyst devices. These additional ports are physically located in wiring closets on the 6800ia, but they exist logically on the chassis switch.

"I got immediately excited about the [Catalyst 6800ia] because my company could triple in size and I wouldn't have to increase the size of my networking staff," said Chris Tillett, network administrator with Halifax Media Group, a Daytona Beach, Fla.-based publisher that owns more than 30 newspapers. Since the Catalyst 6800ia extends the image of an existing core switch, a network engineer doesn't need to deploy and configure it. Tillett said he can send the device to an IT generalist who can simply plug it in and the device is up and running.

Cisco enhanced another part of its campus portfolio by introducing a new supervisor module for the Catalyst 4500. This new module features Cisco's Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) application-specific integrated chip (ASIC), which allows customers to integrate wireless LAN control into their switching fabric. Cisco first introduced this ASIC on its Catalyst 3850 stackable switch.

Finally, Cisco beefed up its enterprise routing products with a new top-of-the-line Integrated Services Router (ISR) 4451-AX [Application Experience]. This router ships with 1 Gbps performance, but its software license can be upgraded to 2 Gbps. All Application Experience features introduced recently on other ISR models ship on this new 4451-AX, but all the services are integrated directly into the box. No additional modules need to be installed. All advanced services, including Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) and security, operate at line rate.

Forrester's Kindness said existing ISR models provide all the Layer 4-7 services that the new ISR 4451-AX offers, but this new model has much better performance. Earlier models delivered those services as if a customer "was deploying a server on top. They can't do WAAS at full performance. This router is integrating Layer 2 through 7 so you can do WAAS and security at 1 to 2 Gb line speed."

Cisco also rolled out the Application Experience services package to the ASR-1000 router, which can be added to existing deployments through a software upgrade. Cisco said the 6807 and 6880 switches will be available in November. Other products and upgrades will be available in July.

Reviews from http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/news/

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