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Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Networking | 1 comment

Scalability with NSX

Scalability with NSX

One of the first arguments I hear every time I start talking about NSX usually goes something like, “You are talking about handling networking within an x86 platform. There is no way that is going to scale the way ASIC can.” I heard this very same argument just yesterday afternoon. And at least twice last week. It is a very common misconception from someone who doesn’t understand the architecture behind NSX. Let me first say that I agree unequivocally that if you were to replace your ASIC sitting at an aggregation point on your network (top-of-rack, end-of-row agg, etc) with an x86 solution, it will tank. No argument from me there. ASIC is necessary for that function. The difference here is that the VMware DVSwitch (and in conjunction the NSX distributed logical router and firewall) is not sitting at an aggregation point, but a distribution point. This is key. If you think about it, we have been using the vSwitch since 2003. The VMware DVS or 1kv is probably pushing...

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Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Networking, Opinion | 0 comments

Declarative or Imperative SDN?

Declarative or Imperative SDN?

There has been some recent “Brew Ha-Ha” in the media over the Imperative vs Declarative SDN models. I think most of this is coming to the surface now because of the recent presentations and announcements at InterOp. Even I became caught up in the arguing. Specifically after a recent “Networkworld.com” article referring to Cisco’s OpFlex (and the declarative model that it operates in) as the “OpenFlow SDN killer.” Actually, before I go on, can someone please come up with a better naming convention for these protocols? OpFlex sounds like some early-90’s infomercial exercise equipment, and OpenFlow sounds like some sort of personal hygiene product. Frankly that article just really ticked me off. It appeared to me that Cisco was in essence giving the “middle-finger” to the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and the work Cisco has been doing with OpenDaylight. The problem here seems to be the mixed-messaging coming from Cisco. Jim Duffy with NetworkWorld.com brilliantly highlights this here. On the one hand Cisco does not endorse the imperative SDN...

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Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Networking, Opinion | 0 comments

Evolution of the Network with SDN

Evolution of the Network with SDN

A few years from now I expect that you will not hear the term “Software Defined Networking” that much. To us it will just be “networking.” Similar to how the term “Big Data” will probably just be “Data” at some point. That’s how evolution in the IT industry works, the buzz word or concept of today can become the industry standard of tomorrow. In the history of computer science, it is also apparent that software always wins. What is defined in hardware in the beginning will eventually give way to an industry standard interface that software will then be responsible for managing. This is not a new or surprising concept in most IT silos. However networking is certainly the last remaining “ivory tower” to evolve in this manner. That is changing. Lets step back and take a look at compute for a moment. I recently had the opportunity to meet with HP’s Deepak Munjal. He is the leading technical SME for HP’s SDN initiative. He made a very interesting...

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Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in vSphere | 0 comments

Upgrading to ESXi 5.5 when using the 1000v

Upgrading to ESXi 5.5 when using the 1000v

I’m currently writing an internal process for updating ESXi hosts to 5.5 (using VMware Update Manager) when the Cisco Nexus 1000v is deployed. I will do my very best to keep from waxing philosophical about my utter distaste for the 1000v in this post. If your environment is making use of this 3rd party switch, then there are some steps you need to take when creating the 5.5 VUM baseline image to make sure you include the appropriate VIBs. If you create a standard 5.5 VUM baseline, and then scan a host against it for compatibility, you will notice the following exception if the 1000v is deployed: This is pretty straightforward. It is telling you that your nice new 5.5 baseline is missing the 1000v VIBs and if you push this deployment you will nuke the 1000v off of the host. So we need to create a custom ISO and associated baseline that includes the 1000v VIB. We will jump into PowerCLI and add the appropriate software depots. The...

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Posted by on Feb 22, 2014 in Featured, vSphere | 2 comments

Upgrading vCenter 4.1 to 5.5 – Lessons learned

Upgrading vCenter 4.1 to 5.5 – Lessons learned

I went “full cowboy” last night and executed an in-place upgrade (to 5.5) of a substantially sized production vCenter. It was running 4.1, contains about 50 UCS hosts, and around 1000 VMs. I ran into essentially every bug/issue along the way, and wanted to document for posterity what I learned. Actually I should say what “we” learned, as I went through the ordeal with a few friends of mine; Scott from Capgemini, and Danby from Honeywell. The vCenter upgrade process is actually fairly simple, (all things considered). You basically just backup your existing database, snapshot (or clone) your existing vCenter (if virtual), mount the ISO and let ‘er rip. I wont go through that process as it already very well documented elsewhere. Looking back the main issue really was just the size of the vCenter database, specifically the vpx_event and vpx_task tables. This was causing DBUHELPER to essentially run out of memory buffer space and crash during the database upgrade. Had I been more careful, we would have either...

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Posted by on Jan 26, 2014 in Featured, Networking | 0 comments

Dynamic Routing with NSX

Dynamic Routing with NSX

Today I’d like to walk through the process of configuring dynamic routing between an NSX distributed logical router and an NSX edge. We will be using OSPF to advertise routes owned by the distributed logical router (DLR) to the edge device. In a previous post I discussed the advantages of leveraging the DLR to optimize East/West traffic. We will now be attaching an NSX edge device to provide North/South connectivity into the environment. In this design, all of your East/West traffic is handled by the DLR, and only ingress/egress traffic will be traversing the edge virtual appliance. It should become quite clear by this example exactly how well NSX can scale, and how it can be customized to support literally any network design. First lets start with a logical diagram of what this will look like when complete: (Credit: VMware) As you can see, we have a typical three-tier app design (web, app, and DB) attached to logical switches (VXLAN virtual wires) that then connect to the DLR. We...

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