FlexPod has been gaining lots of market traction as the preferred converged solution platform of choice for many customers of over the last 4 years. This has been due to the amazing hardware technologies that underpins the solution offering (Cisco UCS compute + Cisco Nexus unified networking + NetApp FAS range of Clustered ONTAP SAN). Often, customers deploy FlexPod solutions together with VMware vSphere or MS Hyper-V on top (other hypervisors are also supported) which together, provide a complete, ready to go live, private and hybrid cloud platform that has been pre-validated to run most if not all typical enterprise data center workloads.
FlexPod Datacenter with Cisco UCS Unified Software release and VMware vSphere 6.0 U1 is designed to be fully redundant in the compute, network, and storage layers. There is no single point of failure from a device or traffic path perspective. Figure 2 illustrates a FlexPod topology using the Cisco UCS 6300 Fabric Interconnect top-of-rack model while Figure 3 shows the same network and storage elements paired with the Cisco UCS 6200 series Fabric Interconnects.
The Cisco UCS 6300 Fabric Interconnect FlexPod Datacenter model enables a high-performance, low latency and lossless fabric supporting application with these elevated requirements. The 40GbE compute and network fabric with optional4/8/16G FC support increase the overall capacity of the system while maintaining the uniform and resilient design of the FlexPod solution. The remainder of this section describes the network, compute and storage connections and enabled features.
Network: Link aggregation technologies play an important role in this FlexPod design, providing improved aggregate bandwidth and link resiliency across the solution stack. The NetApp storage controllers, Cisco Unified Computing System, and Cisco Nexus 9000 platforms support active port channeling using 802.3ad standard Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP). Port channeling is a link aggregation technique offering link fault tolerance and traffic distribution (load balancing) for improved aggregate bandwidth across member ports. In addition, the Cisco Nexus 9000 series features virtual Port Channel (vPC) capabilities. vPC allows links that are physically connected to two different Cisco Nexus 9000 Series devices to appear as a single “logical” port channel to a third device, essentially offering device fault tolerance. The Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnects and NetApp FAS storage controllers benefit from the Cisco Nexus vPC abstraction, gaining link and device resiliency as well as full utilization of a non-blocking Ethernet fabric.
Compute: Each Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect (FI) is connected to the Cisco Nexus 9000. Figure 2 illustrates the use of vPC enabled 40GbE uplinks between the Cisco Nexus 9000 switches and Cisco UCS 6300 Fabric Interconnects. Figure 3 shows vPCs configured with 10GbE uplinks to a pair of Cisco Nexus 9000 switches from a Cisco UCS 6200 FI. Note that additional ports can be easily added to the design for increased bandwidth, redundancy and workload distribution. The Cisco UCS unified software release 3.1 provides a common policy feature set that can be readily applied to the appropriate Fabric Interconnect platform based on the organizations workload requirements.
Note: For SAN environments, NetApp clustered Data ONTAP allows up to 4 HA pairs or 8 nodes. For NAS environments, it allows 12 HA pairs or 24 nodes to form a logical entity.
The HA interconnect allows each node in an HA pair to assume control of its partner’s storage (disks and shelves) directly. The local physical HA storage failover capability does not extend beyond the HA pair. Furthermore, a cluster of nodes does not have to include similar hardware. Rather, individual nodes in an HA pair are configured alike, allowing customers to scale as needed, as they bring additional HA pairs into the larger cluster.
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