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In a world where technologies are evolving rapidly, every company - business needs a partner to rely on and trust for the smooth and secure operation of its network infrastructure.

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In a world where technologies are evolving rapidly, every company - business needs a partner to rely on and trust for the smooth and secure operation of its network infrastructure.

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In a world where technologies are evolving rapidly, every company - business needs a partner to rely on and trust for the smooth and secure operation of its network infrastructure.

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Cisco Automation (NX-OS Multi-Site Fabrics)

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Cisco Automation (NX-OS Multi-Site Fabrics)

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Cisco Automation (NX-OS Multi-Site Fabrics)

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Network automation is becoming a mandatory part of the data center network, even for small to medium enterprises, for the following key reasons.

 

  • The number of manageable devices in the network is growing and with this comes the common trend among professionals to favor the use of pizza box switches over big, modular switches;
  • Device configuration size and complexity increase; and
  • The number of configuration changes has been increasing

 

Listed below are the major benefits of automation.

 

  • reduced risk of human errors
  • accelerated new services delivery
  • reduced workload for network administrators
  • configuration-compliance across devices
  • configuration testing and validation before deployment

 

At the forefront of the modern approaches to infrastructure automation is the DevOps Infrastructure as code (IaC). IaC is the non-manual process method of defining and provisioning infrastructure using codes instead. IaC applies software development methods such as, but not limited to, version control, review, testing, and automation to the infrastructure and networking world in a bid to improve and optimize processes and, thus, speed up the release of a product.

 

NX-OS fabrics automation options

 

With NDFC

For the customers who choose to build their data center network on Cisco Nexus 9000 switches with NX-OS operating system onboard, Cisco offers a ready-to-go automation platform: the Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller (NDFC), previously known as the Data Center Network Manager (DCNM).

 

Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller runs on top of the Nexus Dashboard (ND) cluster. ND is a platform to run data center-related applications by Cisco - NDFC, ACI NDO, Nexus Insights, and Network Assurance Engine. It also supports the installation of 3rd party apps which were approved by Cisco. Under the hood, ND is a Kubernetes cluster with master and worker nodes.

 

The Nexus Dashboard cluster form factors are:

 

  • physical servers (UCS nodes)
  • virtual machines (ESXi, KVM)
  • bare metal Linux (RHEL)
  • cloud (AWS/Azure)

 

While Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller offers a nice GUI, it could be laborious and error-prone when configuring new services in the Fabric.

 

Cisco offers two main instruments to automate an NDFC configuration

 

  • DCNM Ansible Galaxy Collection (https://galaxy.ansible.com/cisco/dcnm)
  • DCNM Terraform Provider (https://registry.terraform.io/providers/CiscoDevNet/dcnm/latest/docs)

 

In this case, Ansible or Terraform is used to automate NFDC via REST API. The NDFC itself is responsible for configuring Nexus devices via SSH.

 

Without NFDC

 

The Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller is an optional tool for fabric automation. If the networking team decides to operate NX-OS Fabric without NDFC, the most popular automation options are still the same: Ansible and Terraform. But in this case, these tools will configure the switches directly.

 

Here are the links to the Ansible Collection and Terraform Provider for the NX-OS:

 

  • NX-OS Ansible Galaxy Collection (https://galaxy.ansible.com/cisco/nxos)
  • NX-OS Terraform Provider (https://registry.terraform.io/providers/netascode/nxos/0.3.22)

 

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