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Cisco Nexus Fabric Manager: It Really Does Simplify and Automate Fabric Build!

- March 16, 2016 - 2 Comments

These days, it seems every new data center solution lays claim to the latest industry buzz words: automation and simplicity. Unfortunately, most solutions don’t really live up to their claims and over time they’ve lost their clout. Most people just gloss over them.

So, knowing that, why would I use them to describe Cisco Nexus Fabric Manager? I should avoid them at all cost, right? Well, automation and simplicity is exactly what Nexus Fabric Manager was designed for and it’s exactly what it delivers. You be the judge at the end of this blog.

What is the Cisco Nexus Fabric Manager?

If you’ve ever setup a data center fabric with VXLAN overlays from scratch (let alone with a BGP-EVPN control plane), you have a pretty good idea of the configuration complexities, troubleshooting and how long it takes to get it to production. No matter how small your fabric, the complexities are similar just on a different scale. So, if you have a fabric build looming, you’re really going to appreciate the simplicity Cisco Nexus Fabric Manager delivers. It’s literally setting a new bar for the definition of simplicity.

This short video provides a good overview of what Nexus Fabric Manager is and what it delivers.

NFM video image

 

Watch Video

 

 

Figure 1. Nexus Fabric Manager Lifecycle

Figure 1. Nexus Fabric Manager Lifecycle

 

At a basic level, Nexus Fabric Manager provides a simple point-and-click approach to build and manage both the underlay spine-leaf topology and the VXLAN overlay. Since it is fully fabric aware, it understands how the fabric should operate and can autonomously configure and maintain fabric health throughout its lifecycle, as shown in Figure 1.

The first release of Nexus Fabric Manager will be supported across the Nexus 9000 Series Switches running in standalone NX-OS mode.

 

What makes it simple?

By “point-n-click”, I literally mean point-n-click! With Nexus Fabric Manager, you don’t need any knowledge of CLI, scripting, or networking protocols. Nexus Fabric Manager provides an intuitive point-and-click web-based interface with simple workflows to self-discover, self-build and self-manage both underlay and overlay configurations. The entire configuration and management is mouse-click driven, so you can put away your CLI configuration guides.

What’s automated?

The complete underlay and overlay configuration and management are automated. Using simple requests, like “add switch” or “set up a broadcast domain”, and in just a few mouse clicks, the Nexus Fabric Manager self-builds a complete data center spine-leaf underlay and VXLAN overlay, creates broadcast domains, and maps hosts to the domains. With traditional configuration approaches, what would normally take hundreds of CLI configuration commands, Nexus Fabric Manager creates with just a few mouse clicks.

Setting up a data center fabric requires a lot of configuration time from the initial switch setup to IP addressing, routing protocols, switch links, anycast gateways, host vPCs, BGP-EVPN, VXLANs, VLAN mappings, map hosts to broadcast domains and the list goes on. Even a small fabric with a few switches can take multiple days before it’s ready for production. With Nexus Fabric Manager, you can setup the same fabric in less than an hour without ever having to type a single CLI command.

And, if you’re not typing CLI commands, you’re not making CLI config errors. We’ve all spent hours looking through CLI command lists trying to pinpoint a misconfiguration that’s keeping the network from going production. With Nexus Fabric Manager, you eliminate that problem. The intuitive workflows automatically build and manage the entire fabric down to the addressing,  eliminating operator generated errors.

I hope you took the time to watch the short overview video to see the full capabilities and benefits of the Cisco Nexus Fabric Manager. Now, you be the judge! Are my use of the words “automation” and “simplicity” justified?

For more information on Cisco Nexus Fabric Manager, visit www.cisco.com/go/nexusfabricmanager

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2 Comments

  1. Wow - you seem surprised by it. Looks like you don't need expensive ACI

      Mike...thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Having configured networks in a past life...I do appreciate the simplicity that Nexus Fabric Manager brings. Wish it existed back in the day ;o) In regards to your ACI comment, NFM offers a subset of what ACI offers. If you're looking to automate fabric configuration with VXLAN domains...then NFM may be the right solution for you. However, if you're looking for a comprehensive policy based SDN solution, that not only provisions the infrastructure, but provides L2-L7 services, micro-segmentation, broad integrated partner ecosystem, application health visibility, private/hybrid cloud deployments and much more…then I would encourage you to check out ACI.