Designing and Building Data Center Fabrics

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Introduction to Data Center Fabrics

16:33 What is a Data Center Fabric

Before starting the Designing and Building Data Center Fabrics online course, let’s try to answer a seemingly simple question “what is a data center fabric?”

What Is a Data Center Fabric 16:33 2016-12-21

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Review Questions 152K 2017-10-09

1:22:50 Data Center Fabric Requirements

What services should your data center fabric provide? What requirements should you consider when designing it? This section lists a number of potential requirements and explains why they might be relevant to your design.

Optimal Bandwidth Utilization 15:59 2016-12-21
Redundant Edge Connectivity 4:14 2016-12-21
Layer-2 Transport and VM Mobility 9:03 2016-12-21
Enhanced Layer-2 Transport 11:22 2016-12-21
Optimal Layer-3 Forwarding 10:50 2016-12-21
Multiple Routing Domains 5:35 2016-12-21
Storage Integration 7:20 2016-12-21
Lossless Transport and Data Center Bridging 4:46 2016-12-21
Table Sizes and Packet Buffers 13:41 2016-12-21

Slide Deck

Data Center Fabrics - Requirements 9.6M 2016-05-22

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Review Questions 186K 2017-10-09

1:23:14 Typical Fabric Technologies Overview

Data center fabrics often rely on technologies you might not find anywhere else in your network. This section describes those technologies and their impact on fabric design.

30:28 Networking technologies

Some of the technologies used in data center fabrics are standardized. Others are not, but they’re still used by most vendors in one form or another.

This section describes some non-standard technologies you’ll find in most data center fabric solutions.

MLAG Technology Overview 17:28 2017-01-18
UFT Technology Overview 13:00 2017-08-16

52:46 Storage technologies and lossless transport

Storage Protocols 101 11:26 2013-05-02
Fibre Channel over Ethernet 14:25 2013-05-02
iSCSI 6:41 2013-05-02
Long-Distance Storage 3:20 2013-05-02
Storage Myths 4:42 2013-05-02
Storage Q&A 12:12 2013-05-02

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Review Questions 177K 2017-11-06

Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics

32:43 Introduction to leaf-and-spine fabrics

Traditional data center networks used a 3-tier design that was mostly mandated by hardware limitations, resulting in unequal bandwidth between endpoints based on their locations. In the last few years the networking industry rediscovered the work of Charles Clos (from 1953) and everyone started promoting leaf-and-spine fabrics.

Challenges of Traditional Data Center Networks 16:04 2017-11-04
Clos Networks and Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics 16:39 2017-11-04

Additional Resources

Slide deck 1.3M 2017-11-04

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Review Questions 166K 2017-11-04

1:02:41 Physical Leaf-and-Spine Fabric Design

After mastering the basic principles of leaf-and-spine fabrics described in the Introduction section we're moving on to the physical design: how do you build a leaf-and-spine fabric given number of edge ports and oversubscription ratio? What if you need less than 100 ports? What if you need 50.000 ports? What do you do if you have to support low-speed edge interfaces?

Physical Leaf-and-Spine Fabric Design 14:55 2017-11-04
Small Fabrics and Lower-Speed Interfaces 9:07 2017-11-04
Building Very Large Fabrics 21:52 2017-11-04

16:47 Implementation examples

Leaf-and-Spine Clos Fabric with Dell Force10 switches 4:17 2012-11-12
Large Leaf-and-Spine Clos Fabric Using 10GE Links 5:14 2013-02-19
Multi-Stage Clos Fabrics With Dell Force10 Switches 7:16 2013-02-19

Additional resources

Slide deck 1.7M 2017-11-04

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Review Questions 172K 2017-11-04

Design Assignment

Build a Small Data Center Fabric 124K 2017-12-30

1:25:50 Layer-3 Fabrics with Non-Redundant Server Connectivity

We're starting the design part of the webinar with the simplest possible scenario – each leaf switch is a single IP subnet – and focus on routing protocol selection, route summarization, leaf-to-spine link aggregation, and core link addressing.

44:27 Overview and Design Principles

Introduction to Leaf-and-Spine Designs 4:39 2017-02-09
Layer-3 Fabric with Non-Redundant Server Connectivity 6:52 2017-02-09
Routing Protocol Selection 19:50 2017-02-09
Route Summarization and Link Aggregation 6:40 2017-02-09
Core Link Addressing 6:26 2017-02-09
Slide deck 1.4M 2016-03-25

41:23 Using BGP in Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics

Based on the work done by Petr Lapukhov at Microsoft, every vendor talks about using BGP as the routing protocol in leaf-and-spine fabrics. Does it make sense? You'll find some of the answers in this section presented by Dinesh Dutt (Cumulus Networks).

Using BGP in Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics 10:19 2016-06-06
Simplifying BGP Configurations 19:30 2016-06-06
Troubleshooting and Managing BGP 8:19 2016-06-06
BGP in Data Centers - Sample Deployments 3:15 2016-06-06
Slide deck 1.9M 2016-03-04

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Review Questions 202K 2017-11-06

32:38 Layer-3 Fabrics with Redundant Server Connectivity

After establishing the baseline in the Layer-3 fabrics with non-redundant server connectivity section we'll add complexity at the fabric edge: redundantly connected servers.

Layer-3 Fabrics with Redundant Server Connectivity 18:54 2018-01-17
Link Aggregation between Servers and Network 5:26 2018-01-17
Active-Standby Server Connectivity 8:18 2016-12-12
Slide deck 1.7M 2018-01-17

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Review Questions 165K 2017-12-31

1:50:15 Layer-3-Only Data Centers

Is it possible to build a pure layer-3 data center fabric that supports redundant server connectivity and IP address mobility? You'll find out in this section.

6:53 Design Guidelines

Host Routing 6:53 2016-12-12
Slide deck 1.3M 2016-03-25

24:22 Building a Pure L3 Data Center with Cumulus Linux

Building a Pure L3 Data Center with Cumulus Linux 24:22 2016-12-12
Slide deck 949K 2016-03-29

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Review Questions 157K 2018-01-17

1:19:00 More to explore

Layer-3-only Data Center Networks with Cumulus Linux on Software Gone Wild
Enterasys Robust Data Center Interconnect Solutions 1:19:00

29:27 Routing on Servers

Another approach to building a pure layer-3 fabric is to extend the fabric routing protocol into the servers and announce servers' loopback IP addresses using BGP.

Runinng Routing Protocols on Servers 10:55 2016-12-12
Routing from Hosts - Deep Dive 10:24 2016-12-12
Examples from Real World 8:08 2016-12-12

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Review Questions 153K 2017-12-31

1:53:15 Layer-2 Fabrics

We're leaving the stable world of L3-only fabrics and entering the realm of large VLANs that most enterprise data centers have to deal with. We'll cover numerous design scenarios, from traditional bridging to routing on layer 2 and MAC-over-IP encapsulation.

1:00:15 Design Guidelines

Layer-2 Fabrics 14:49 2017-03-21
Traditional Bridging 10:05 2017-03-21
Routing on Layer-2 13:12 2017-03-21
MAC-over-IP Encapsulation 13:25 2017-03-21
Redundant Server-to-Network Connectivity 8:44 2017-03-21
Slide deck 1.8M 2016-04-01

53:00 Shortest Path Bridging in Avaya Fabric

Avaya is one of the few data center switching vendors that still uses routing on layer 2 (SPB) technology instead of VXLAN encapsulation. In this guest presentation Roger Lapuh (Avaya) explains how SPB works and how you can use it to build layer-2 or layer-2+3 data center fabrics.

Introduction to SPB and Avaya Fabric Connect 18:25 2017-03-21
SPB Deep Dive 18:17 2017-03-21
Building Data Center Fabrics with SPB 16:18 2017-03-21
Slide deck 2.1M 2016-04-06

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Review Questions 179K 2017-12-31

Design Assignment

Design a Robust Layer-2 Fabric 236K 2017-12-30

1:49:57 Mixed Layer-2 + Layer-3 Fabrics

Most data center fabrics have to combine elements of large VLANs and routing. In this section we'll explore the various combinations, from traditional routing on spine switches to anycast routing on leaf switches.

31:05 Design Guidelines

Layer-2+3 Fabrics 6:45 2017-04-04
Routing on Spine Switches 9:04 2017-04-04
Routing on Leaf Switches 15:16 2017-04-04
Slide deck 1.4M 2016-04-20

1:18:52 VXLAN with BGP EVPN on Cisco Nexus OS

Major data center switching vendors use VXLAN to build large layer-2 domains across IP fabrics, and EVPN control plane to build flooding trees and exchange MAC address reachability information.

In this section Lukas Krattiger (guest speaker from Cisco Systems) explains how VXLAN transport and EVPN control plane work on Nexus switches.

Overlays in Data Center Fabrics 15:07 2017-04-04
Overview of VXLAN with BGP EVPN 15:59 2017-04-04
Introduction to BGP EVPN 15:29 2017-04-04
BGP EVPN Deep Dive 15:39 2017-04-04
EVPN Integrated Routing and Bridging 16:38 2017-04-04
Slide deck 12M 2016-04-21

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Review Questions 169K 2017-12-31

2:34:20 Stretching Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics

Should you stretch a single fabric across multiple sites? Does it make sense to split a large fabric into smaller fabrics (pods)? What could you do to improve the scalability of VXLAN-based EVPN fabrics?

This section contains the design guidelines and technology details you need to answer these questions.

49:17 Multi-Site and Multi-Pod Fabrics Design Guidelines

What Problem Are We Trying to Solve? 14:57 2018-03-30
Physical Multi-Site Topologies 13:11 2018-03-30
Data-, Control- and Management-Plane Failure Domains 19:08 2018-03-30
Conclusions 2:01 2018-03-30
Slide Deck 2.1M 2018-03-29

1:45:03 Using VXLAN and EVPN in Multi-Pod and Multi-Site Fabrics

Introduction to Multi-Pod and Multi-Site Fabrics 8:19 2018-03-31
Multi-Pod Fabrics 29:59 2018-03-31
Multi-Site Fabrics 38:10 2018-03-31
Multi-Site Packet Forwarding 22:20 2018-03-31
Conclusions 6:15 2018-03-31
Slide Deck 29M 2018-03-27

Design Assignment

Extend a Leaf-and-Spine Fabric 105K 2017-12-30

19:31 QoS and Load Balancing in Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics

Do you need QoS in data center fabrics? How do you handle load balancing between elephant and mice flows? This section describes some of the answers.

The following video was recorded in the Autumn 2016 Q&A session of the Building Next-Generation Data Center online course

QoS and Load Balancing in Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics 19:31 2017-11-06

Advanced Topics

1:14:48 Whitebox Switching and Disaggregation

This section describes the differences between SDN, disaggregation and whitebox switching, the major components you'll find in any disaggregated solution (from hardware abstraction layer to control-plane components) and the benefits and drawbacks of several disaggregated network operating systems.

Whitebox and Disaggregation Drivers 13:38 2017-09-20
Components 18:19 2017-09-20
Network Operating Systems 19:28 2017-09-20
Challenges 13:12 2017-09-20
Questions 10:11 2017-09-20

Additional resources

Slide deck 1.2M 2017-05-09

Test your knowledge

Review Questions 167K 2017-12-30

1:06:50 Large-Scale Open Data Center Fabrics

In this section you'll learn how to build very large data center fabrics. The section covers:

  • planning and design
  • disaggregation of chassis switches into individual components
  • challenges and limitations of modern data center switches
  • pod architecture
  • sample single-SKU designs
Large Data Center Fabric Challenges 16:54 2017-10-20
Pod Architecture and Basic Access Topologies 6:39 2017-10-20
Single-SKU Data Center Networks 9:44 2017-10-20
Hardware Challenges 14:48 2017-10-20
Building Large Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics 18:45 2017-10-20

Additional resources

Slide deck 4.5M 2017-05-23

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Review Questions 170K 2017-12-30

56:19 Data Center Fabric Architectures

As you analyze the vendor solutions, it quickly becomes obvious that every single one of them uses one of few typical control/management plane architectures, from completely decentralized model (sometimes heavily automated) to centralized control- or even data plane.

This section describes most of the architectures you might encounter in real life and documents their benefits and drawbacks.

Fabric Architectures - Introduction 15:08 2017-01-18
Independent Devices 4:42 2017-01-18
Shared Management Plane 7:49 2017-01-18
Centralized Control Plane 13:13 2017-01-18
Centralized Control Plane with Local Offload 6:37 2017-01-18
Centralized Data Plane 6:17 2017-01-18
Conclusions 2:33 2017-01-18

Slide Deck

Data Center Fabrics - Architectures 2.3M 2016-05-30

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Review Questions 198K 2017-12-30

1:11:40 Fabrics, Buffers and Drops

Buffering is a confusing and sometimes controversial topic when it comes to data center fabrics. In this short section JR Rivers discusses some of the related theory and practicalities as well as gives insight into tools that are available to networking specialists.

Switch Buffer Architectures 28:54 2017-09-16
Small Buffer or Big Buffer Switches 5:36 2017-09-16
Tools and Knobs 17:50 2017-09-16
Questions and Answers 19:20 2017-09-16

Reference material

Slide deck 2.5M 2016-11-09
Data Center TCP (Alizadeh, 2010)
Data Center TCP IETF draft
On the Data Path Performance of Leaf-Spine Datacenter Fabrics
BufferBloat wiki

Test your knowledge

Review Questions 192K 2017-12-30

Reference material

5:28:12 Reference: Data Center Fabric solutions

In this section you’ll find an overview of data center fabric solutions from major data center switching vendors. The Data Center Fabrics webinar (included with this course) contains even more information.

2:21:17 Arista EOS

This section contains information on Arista’s data center switches and software features available in Arista EOS. It was last updated in August 2017.

Product Overview - Arista 15:48 2017-08-18
Product Details - Arista 10:26 2017-08-18
Software Features Release Overview - Arista 28:42 2017-08-18
Highlighted Software Features - Arista EOS 45:26 2017-08-18
Highlighted Software Features - Arista 7150 8:18 2014-07-22
OpenFlow Support - Arista 13:36 2015-12-22
VXLAN Support - Arista 19:01 2017-08-18

2:07:06 Cisco Nexus Switches

This section covers Cisco’s Nexus series of data center switches and their Nexus-OS operating system. The videos in this section were last updated in August 2017.

Product Overview - Nexus 9000 Series 19:13 2017-08-21
Product Overview - Other Nexus Switches 11:50 2017-08-21
Product Details - Cisco 3:35 2014-09-12
FabricPath, vPC and DFA 17:37 2016-01-04
Software Release Overview - Nexus OS 34:25 2017-08-21
Highlighted Software Features - Nexus OS 19:45 2017-08-21
OpenFlow Support in Nexus Switches 4:20 2017-08-21
VXLAN Support in Nexus Switches 16:21 2017-08-21

59:49 Juniper QFX- and EX Series

This section covers Juniper’s QFX- and EX-series of data center switches and the data center features of Junos.

The videos in this section were last updated in 2015, for 2016 updates see the Update Sessions in 2016 section.

Juniper EX-Series and QFabric 7.9M 2015-12-19
Product Overview - Juniper Data Center Switches 14:36 2016-01-04
Product Details - QFX- and EX-Series Switches 9:57 2016-01-04
Product Details - QFabric 8:08 2014-10-17
Virtual Chassis 10:30 2014-10-17
Junos Software Release Overview 12:10 2016-01-04
OpenFlow Support on Juniper Data Center Switches 2:54 2016-01-04
VXLAN Support on Juniper Data Center Switches 1:34 2016-01-04

40:02:00 Relevant Webinars

All webinars in this section are included with your online course. Some of them are part of the core course content, others are included as reference material.

Data Center Fabric Architectures 16:38:00
Leaf-and-Spine Fabric Architectures 10:52:00
Data Center 3.0 for Networking Engineers 6:57:00
Open Networking for Large-Scale Networks 2:22:00
Networks, Buffers, and Drops 1:12:00
ExpertExpress Case Studies 40:02:00
Introduction to Virtualized Networking 2:01:00
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