Unification Part 1: The Rise of the Data Centre Admin.

This is the first of a 2-Part Post: Part one is a non-technical primer. Then in part two we have some fun sorting out your LLDP from your DCBX with sprinkles of ETS, covered in a PFC sauce topped off with a nice FIP cherry.


In this new world of convergence and unification, I seem to spend a lot of my time either teaching “Traditional Networkers” SAN principals and configuration, or on the other side of the coin teaching “Traditional Storage” people Networking principals and configuration.

These historically siloed teams are increasingly having to work together in order to create a holistic unified/converged network.

It is still quite common for me to get requests from clients to create separate “SAN Admin” and “LAN Admin” accounts on the same Cisco Nexus switch and enforce the privileges of each account via Role Based Access Control (RBAC), and there is by the way, absolutely, nothing wrong with that, especially if both the LAN and SAN are complex environments.

However there is an ever increasing overlap and grey area between the roles of the LAN and SAN administrator, and in a world which is ever focusing on increasing efficiency, simplicity and reduction in support costs, the Role of “Data Centre Administrator” is on the rise.

I’m glad to say that I very rarely ever get dragged into debates about the validity of FCoE these days, as it has undoubtedly proven to be a “no brainer” at the edge of the network, with the significant efficiencies in reduced costs, HBA’s, switch port counts, and all the associated power and cooling reductions that go along with it.

And once the transition to FCoE on the edge is complete, you have to really ask yourself is there any real benefit maintaining native FC links within the network core, or would it be simpler to just bring everything under the Ethernet umbrella.

While the efficiencies and savings of a multi-hop FCoE network are not as much of a “no brainer” as it is at the edge, in my book there’s a lot to be said for just having the same flavour SFP’s throughout the entire network, along with no need to allocate native FC ports in your Nexus switches or Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnects, (unless you have FC only Hosts/Arrays somewhere in the network)

In all my years in IT, this topic may well be the one which contains the most abbreviations, DCB, DCBX, LLDP, PFC, ETS, FIP to name just a few, which I think has led to the perception of complexity, however while there is certainly a lot of clever tech going on “under the hood” the actual configuration and business as usual tasks are actually quite simple.

So with all of the above in mind, Part 2 of this post will cover much of the information you need to know as the “Data Centre Admin” in order to survive in a unified Cisco Nexus Environment.


About ucsguru

Principal Consultant and Data Center Subject Matter Expert. I do not work or speak for Cisco or any other vendor.
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