How to monitor the Cisco Nexus product family

Leo Nieuwesteeg

Cisco FabricPath (introduced in 2010) is a neat technology that enables support for highly scalable low latency networks. You might guess that FabricPath would be at the forefront of data centers, but you’d be wrong!

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting at ScienceLogic’s Customer  Symposium where I discussed EM7’s latest support for the Cisco Nexus Product Line, and learned that none of our customers are actually using FabricPath at all!  FabricPath is one of the technologies implemented on Cisco’s Nexus product line that addresses some of the challenges in the data center market. The ScienceLogic network monitoring software now supports the monitoring of this technology and all the other technologies specific to the data center.

The data center has some key challenges such as:

  • Move from siloed architecture to a fully virtualized unified data center
  • Unification of network fabric (IP and storage network)
  • VM Mobility – Workload moved from static resource on a fixed device to a mobile resource that can be  migrated to VMs on same POD, to machines within that same data center and to machines across data centers
  • On Demand Computing – resources are added and deleted from workloads as needed
  • Cloud Computing – Enterprises can leverage data centers in the cloud

In order to address these challenges, Cisco introduced many new technologies on the Nexus product line including:

  • Fiber Channel Over Ethernet (and the DCB extensions required to support FCoE)
  • Virtual Port Channel
  • Virtual Fiber Channels
  • Overlay transport Virtualization
  • Fabric Path
  • VXLAN
  • vPath
  • Fabric Extenders

ScienceLogic currently supports monitoring of basic switching platforms. However, ScienceLogic now provides the most comprehensive monitoring of the Nexus platforms by providing the capability to monitor these additional technologies needed in the data center. For example, Virtual Port Channels (vPC) provide the capability to split a port channel from a server to a pair of Nexus thereby utilizing all the uplinks in an active fashion while providing  fault tolerant operation. vPCs are the cornerstone when connecting anything to Nexus as per Cisco Best Practices.

The ScienceLogic platform is the only platform to provide the capability to visualize how your traffic is being distributed across all the members of the vPC as shown below:

Nexus supports Fabric Extenders which are really just switches themselves that are managed via the parent Nexus. That is, FEXs look like remote line cards on the parent Nexus. 

blog-201311-vpc-visualization

The ScienceLogic platform leverages component mapping to show these components of the FEX as follows:

The ScienceLogic platform provides comprehensive configuration information for these various technologies and provides event policies to indicate any potential trouble with these technologies.

While our customers may not currently be using Cisco FabricPath, they are most definitely using most of the Nexus Capabilities and the ScienceLogic platform provides monitoring support for all these technologies.  
blog-201311-fex-component-mapping

 

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  • Juraj Markotic

    Leo,
    nicely written piece. This Nexus capability will provide valuable addition to already existing capabilities to monitor customers datacenters.
    jm