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Simplifying VXLAN-EVPN in the Data Centre with Cisco's NDFC

Introduction

Utilising Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) has become an industry standard for many enterprises and service providers in modern-day network architectures. It is used in Data Centres for scalable network segmentation, overlay support, and improved virtual machine mobility. Combined with the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) Ethernet VPN (EVPN) address family, it is a powerful tool for enabling businesses to extend network segments between geographically dispersed locations using layer 2 virtual bridging. It enables efficient handling of large-scale virtualised environments and facilitates seamless connectivity between private and public clouds. Despite its usefulness, the deployment of VXLAN is not without difficulties and can require a large amount of complex configuration to enable it to achieve the desired operation.

What is Cisco NDFC?

Cisco's Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller (NDFC) is a network management and automation platform that supports NX-OS and IOS-XE, plus the onboarding of 3rd party devices such as Arista. NDFC allows network administrators to quickly and reliably deploy, operate, maintain and monitor multiple VXLAN-EVPN fabrics through a single pane of glass. From a small single-site fabric deployment to a large-scale multi-site hybrid cloud deployment, NDFC can provision and manage network devices while significantly reducing the complexity.

How can NDFC help?

By utilising NDFC for network deployments, you can take advantage of the following benefits:

  • Reduce deployment time of VXLAN-EVPN fabrics or traditional LAN networks to minutes, leveraging fully automated workflows.

  • Ensure up-to-date best-practice configurations are achieved as part of the standard automation, eliminating manual deployment complexity and reducing configuration mistakes.

  • Asset management and image management with the ability to schedule the upgrade of multiple devices as one in a controlled, non-disruptive manner.

  • Easily streamline data centre automation and centralise common shared services.

  • Provide complete lifecycle management and automation for Cisco Nexus and Cisco MDS platforms.

  • Monitor and visualise your networking topologies from Nexus Dashboard.

  • Support for Bare-Metal and Virtual Endpoint visibility

  • Extend on-premises networks to a public or private cloud.

When to consider NDFC over ACI?

With Cisco positioning both NDFC and ACI to its consumers, it may not be clear which scenarios NDFC is the right solution to consider. NDFC is well suited for organisations familiar with NX-OS with no desire to invest in learning ACI and its ecosystem. Moreover, NDFC offers more flexibility in integrating with different device types and vendors – for example, the integration with Cisco's Catalyst Campus EVPN. One of the primary reasons businesses may opt for NDFC is due to the simplicity of deploying different fabric architectures, such as collapsing the border gateway role onto a Spine node or deploying multiple Pods with a backbone Super-Spine, all from NDFC.

A distinct advantage of NDFC is automating the bring up of non-fabric devices using Power On Auto Provisioning (POAP) to deploy, integrate and then manage inter-site and external networks. As NDFC is deployed as an application on Cisco's Nexus Dashboard platform, additional analysis tools such as Insights and Data Broker can quickly be adopted to enhance the visibility of data centre traffic flows.

Conclusion

There is a choice between Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Ethernet VPN (EVPN) for building data centre network fabrics as these technologies are thought to be interchangeable so the choice can depend on cultural, political or other “Layer 8” decisions. However, the fabric technologies are quite different so the choice has a profound impact on fabric orchestration, operations, and staffing.

If you’re keen to understand more around simplifying VXLAN-EVPN in the Data Centre with Cisco's NDFC or indeed would like to discuss your own environment requirements and challenges, our technical experts are more than happy to provide a technical advisory session.

Get in touch to arrange a time that suits you.

WhiteSpider specialises in advanced technology services, offering consultancy, strategic advice, and support in enterprise service architectures, helping organisations to standardise their IT infrastructures as they transition to digital, software-defined architectures. With industry leading expertise in the data centre, cloud and enterprise networking, we design, deploy and manage software-defined architectures that simplify and automate IT estates, delivering innovative business outcomes.
 

 

 

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WhiteSpider is an advanced technology services company, specialising in the provision of consultancy, strategic advice, and practical support in enterprise service architectures. As experts in software-defined architectures, we help organisations across the world to standardise their IT and communications infrastructures as they transition to digital.

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