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Well, Day two of Cisco Live 2011 for me (for some this is your first day as you are still arriving).

For me, I am taking an 8 hour Techtorial on Next Generation Data Center Infrastructure TECDCT-8001.  This is a paid seminar that has covered some great material – and probably help to generate some future blog posts as well!

Mike Herbert took the first part of the class and did a great review of some of the changes that have happened in the data center over the past few years. From the evolving 3-tier architecture with Spanning Tree and such all the way to Fabric Path and TRILL.  Nothing was really in depth but was a great setting of the stage for the day.  Some of the things that I liked was the discussion on the Data Center Standards and where different things are in the flow.  Another nice discussion was data center cabling and the potential future of cabling.  From the traditional home-run cabling that many of us use today to the discussion of top of rack (TOR) and end of row (EOR) drivers with regards to 10g and beyond cabling.  Problems discussed where primarily the cost of running those lengths of cables to the cross-talk potentials due to the power required to drive the data.  Oh yeah, Mike gets some bonus points for mentioning LISP during the presentation as well.

The next speaker, Vimala Veerappan, reviewed Virtual Port Channels (vPC) and the Fabric Extender (FEX) in great detail.  From the concepts of what it is, to the best practice design for vPC links and peer-links,  and covered failure scenarios very well.  Much of the discussion with regards to the failure scenarios is Vimala also covered all the different FEX configuration options with regards to N5K and N7K designs, the reasons why certain designs are and are not supported (split-brain on N5K and not N7K) made quite a bit more sense after her talk.

Eddie Tan was up next in this class and started to discuss the Layer 3 impacts on vPC and F1/M1 line card interactions.  The Layer 3 communication and design is very interesting when you add vPC to a network – he covers the peer-gateway configuration and reasoning as well as discussed the impact and design of multicast with vPC and the N5K/N7K.  There is way too much detail discussed to begin to put a sentence to, the discussion on that topic was very good and will take some time for me to digest it all.

Eddie continues to talk about FabricPath and the benefits that it brings.  He mentions that the 16-path limitation is a hardware limitation right now, not a technology limitation. This is good to hear as we all know that as things collapse in the DC, the bandwidth requirements will continue to increase. He discussed what a Edge port is, Leaf switch, and a spine switch ( again, another future post) and what each of them do. He continues to go into great detail on Fabric Path and how it works.  This was some great information as Fabric Path is a new technology and has some great potential in our data centers, after this session I definitely have a better understanding of Fabric Path.  Near the end of his session he started to talk about vPC+ and how it works with all the Fabric Path stuff (yeah, brain is mush and its turning into stuff).  All I have to say is long live IS-IS.

J is up now – @jmichelmetz – and is adding some great energy to the room for an after lunch presentation.  He starts by giving us some education on SAN design and the fabric that goes with it.  He reviews the mentality differences of IP Network Engineers vs the mentality of Storage Engineers.  There is a difference in thoughts when it comes to designs, and it is really nice to see it put in an easy to understand way.  The overview of the different ways things are handled with credits, the names of all the port types (F-E-N), and the WWN review was nice to see.  Forgot about some of that, now I remember much of that from past classes.

Next up is Converged Networking – ie FCoE.  A good analogy is Russian Dolls – each one is intact within each other. The discussion on how it works was very interesting.  I knew what it was, but I think I now have a better understanding of how it works and what it is.   What was really nice is that he included QR codes on the presentations to help you get more information  from external websites – very helpful! When J got to QoS and FCoE, the class got interesting – the storage people are freaking out on the use of 50% reserved for FCoE and the rest for data, they forget this is a 10G link and most FC is 2/4g.

Now onto the Nexus 7000 with Storage VDCs.  Out of the 4 that are available, one is dedicated to storage – yet can share a single cable and the switch will shunt the ether-type to the appropriate VDC.  Very nice!!!!  This was a topic I was only barely aware of, nice to see how it works.  What is also nice, there is no license required for the Storage VDC, but you can use it.  Also, he did mention that 4 +1 VDC is coming soon, the +1 is the Management VDC, so we will really have 4 to use instead of the 3 we have today if you leave production out of the management VDC.

Mike is back up to talk to us about about the Nexus Virtualized Access Switch ( FEX switches ) and NIC teaming with servers.  Talking about the benefits of NIC teaming in comparison to single-nic servers in an active/standby design.  More around the vPC shortcomings in the old code, but good to review some of the information that was covered earlier in the day. Now onto the VBS (Virtual Blade Switch) and the connectivity options – and some of the best practice design for those devices.  He has covered some of the Nexus 4000 stuff, and a question was asked about when will it be avail for Dell – he snickered 🙂 He talks about the pass-through technology with Dell to keep the config the same as traditional servers, but sounds like something might be coming.  Not sure what or when, but there is something up their sleeves.  What he did mention though, a FEX is cheaper then the Dell Blade switch – interesting.

To be honest, at this point I faded in this class ( the conversations are now onto 1000V, vblock, and UCS).  The information is coming fast and furious, it is a wonderful session! The amount of detail that is being covered is great, technical, and the knowledge of the presenters shines.  All in all, this class is wonderful and I cannot wait to review the slides again – once they are posted as updates where made after the Virtual publication.