Category: Software Defined Datacenters

Setting up Cisco ACI From Scratch

This Cisco ACI article describes the first few things you will do when getting ACI Fabric components in your datacenter.

So let’s see what we have here:

Get Your Gear

In this one, we will get three APIC controllers, four Leafs and two Spines to build simple ACI and few 2060 switches for OOB management:

  • 3x APICs APIC-CLUSTER-M2 – APIC Controller Medium Configuration (Up to 1000 Edge Ports)
  • 2x Spines N9K-C9364C – Nexus 9K ACI & NX-OS Spine, 64p 40/100G QSFP28
  • 2x SFP Leafs N9K-C93180YC-EX – Nexus 9300 with 48p 10/25G SFP+ and 6p 100G QSFP28
  • 2x Copper Leafs N9K-C9348GC-FXP – Nexus 9300 with 48p 100M/1GT, 4p 10/25G & 2p 40/100G QSFP28
  • 2x Catalyst 2960 OOB management switches

You need to cable Leaf and Spines in-between properly to form CLOS topology from the image below with 40G or 100G optics. Each Spine, Leaf and APIC controller needs to be connected to non-ACI OOB management network. You need then to connect redundantly APIC controllers to two Leafs with 10G optics and start the APIC initialization and fabric discovery.

Cable The Thing

Spines are all ports 40G/100G so you Choose your ports as you like, and for Leafs, each of them has last 6 ports 40G/100G so use one of those to connect to each Spine and you have your Leaf’n’Spine.

ACI Fabric with APIC

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ACI MultiPod and how to build MultiDatacenter with Cisco ACI

What is MultiPod?

ACI MultiPod was first designed to enable the spread of ACI Fabric inside a building (into two or more Pods), let’s say in two rooms at different floors, without the need to connect all the Leafs from one room to all the Spines in the other room. It was a way of simplifying the cabling and all that comes with building spread CLOS topology fabric stuff.

MultiPod also saves some Leaf ports giving the fact that Pod to Pod connection through Multicast enabled IPN network connects directly to Spines.

Cisco ACI Multi-Pod

People soon realized that MultiPod will be a great solution for a dual site (or more than dual) Datacenter with the ability to have single management with a single ACI Fabric stretched across two or more locations that are connected with an IP connection not too long so that enables RTT latency of less than 50msec with Multicast support. Not too simple but it seems not too demanding for most cases.

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What is Cisco ACI?

Hello World

This is an overview of what I think Cisco ACI actually is. It uses some examples from the lab environment to show you how the things look like when you start to work with ACI. There are other articles in the works which will be online soon and which will go in details through the real configuration of ACI and best practices while doing it.

What is this Cisco ACI Fabric?

Cisco ACI is a datacenter network Fabric. It actually means that it is a networking system of more networking L3 switches that have a modified, next-generation OS which enables them to be centrally provisioned and configured through APIC controller to work as one device from access port perspective.

ACI APIC GUI Topology

The view at Cisco ACI APIC GUI where we see complete ACI Fabric Topology

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CLOS Topology

Edson Erwin invented this highly scalable and optimized way of connecting network nodes in the 1930s and Charles Clos made the telephone nodes interconnection design using that solution. It was even before we had IP networks. He invented it in order to optimize the architecture of telephony network systems back then.

It was not used in IP based network for last few decades but it experienced a big comeback with new datacenter design in the last few years. It was first invented only for scalability requirements that it solved beautifully. In new datacenter design, CLOS topology of interconnecting network devices scalability is also the first requirement that gets solved, but it also greatly helps with improving resiliency and performance.

In today’s datacenters, CLOS topology is used to create Leaf’n’Spine system of interconnecting Leaf switches (datacenter access switches or ToR switches) together through Spine switches. It is created in a way that each Leaf switch is redundantly connected to all Spine switches directly.

As it is shown in the picture below, in this way, using CLOS topology, we are interconnecting Leaf switches in a way that they always have only two hops between each other and this done redundantly as two hops through each Spine switch. Spines are not directly connected and Leafs are also not directly connected.

CLOS

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