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HomeCloud ComputingPrime Ten Advantages of Upgrading from DCNM to NDFC SAN

Prime Ten Advantages of Upgrading from DCNM to NDFC SAN

Cisco Knowledge Middle Community Supervisor (DCNM) has lengthy been thought of the gold customary of SAN administration due to its stability, wealthy options, and large adoption. DCNM has been round and serving clients very effectively for over twenty years. It was initially featured together with the launch of the MDS 9000 switches. Again then, it was known as Cloth Supervisor and this identify is utilized in conversations even to today. That was the time when functions used a monolithic design. Nonetheless, instances have modified, and over the past decade, software program growth has undergone a complete makeover. As a substitute of a big monolith, nowadays an software is split into a number of microservices. Then, every of those providers runs in its devoted containers. This microservices-based design results in many advantages, corresponding to larger scale, improved safety, larger availability, and quicker growth.

DCNM’s monolithic design, regardless of serving effectively for twenty years, is unable to unleash the total potential of circulation visibility, real-time analytics, and better scale. As a substitute of making an attempt to retrofit these advantages into DCNM, we rewrote the complete software from scratch utilizing the microservices structure. Throughout this contemporary growth, we additionally gave it a brand new identify known as Nexus Dashboard Cloth Controller (NDFC).

Observe: The main target of this publish is on NDFC SAN Controller.

Advantages of Upgrading from DCNM to NDFC SAN Controller

In January 2023, we launched the third main launch (12.1.2) of NDFC SAN Controller. This makes the proper time to improve from DCNM to NDFC not simply because three is a magic quantity, but in addition due to ten causes that I’m sharing on this publish.

1. Upgrading from DCNM to NDFC is Free

We designed NDFC to honor the present DCNM licenses. This funding safety turns into much more rewarding with the distinctive longevity of Cisco switches due to in-place upgrades to the upper speeds. For instance, clients who purchased MDS 9710 with DCNM license in 2013 can improve to NDFC in 2023 utilizing the identical license. Simply to be clear, any newly bought Nexus and MDS switches nonetheless require new NDFC licenses. However NDFC will have the ability to handle any current switches you may have already bought DCNM licenses for. Basically, it’s free to improve from DCNM to NDFC.

2. Lively-Lively Clustering for Excessive-Availability

The internet hosting platform of NDFC, known as Nexus Dashboard (ND), gives native active-active clustering. You may deploy 3 nodes of Nexus Dashboard in a cluster after which set up a single occasion of NDFC on it. The person expertise for SAN Administration stays unchanged no matter 1-node ND or a 3-node ND cluster. Nonetheless, with 3-node cluster, ND routinely distributes microservices on a number of nodes. If one node fails, the present two nodes proceed to run NDFC. This achieves an unprecedented reliability for SAN Administration and Insights.

Lively-Lively clustering doesn’t exist in DCNM. It has a unique implementation for attaining excessive availability, known as Federation. However due to the dependency on an exterior Oracle RAC database, DCNM Federation will increase the entire value of possession. In distinction, Nexus Dashboard natively integrates distributed database providers for attaining active-active clustering. This design makes excessive availability of NDFC rather more inexpensive.

To today NDFC is the one SAN administration software program to supply a real extremely obtainable structure to drastically enhance up-time and availability for SAN operations. In a time when down-time is solely unacceptable, this structure delivers piece of thoughts even on the community administration aspect of the enterprise.

3. NDFC One View – Single-pane-of-glass Throughout A number of NDFC Servers

NDFC One View gives centralized administration and visualization of a number of SAN environments which might be managed by totally different NDFC servers. Utilizing an executive-level dashboard of One View, you may seamlessly navigate to a taking part NDFC server utilizing Single Signal-On (SSO). This results in quicker troubleshooting and simplified Day 2 operations.

There isn’t a further license for NDFC One View. If you have already got DCNM/NDFC license for managing the switches, you can begin utilizing NDFC One View at present with no further value.

DCNM doesn’t supply an identical characteristic. In case you have a number of DCNM servers managing totally different SAN environments, getting a unified view throughout all these DCNM servers is feasible solely after upgrading to NDFC.

4. Larger Scale

Beginning 12.1.2 launch, NDFC can handle as much as 40K ports (earlier 20K ports) and as much as 160 switches (earlier 80 switches). This elevated scale helps to consolidate a number of DCNM servers in fewer NDFC servers, and therefore saves time, effort, and cash.

Apart from the material scale, SAN Insights can now monitor as much as 1 million I/O flows per NDFC server. When SAN Insights was first added to DCNM 11 in 2018, it may monitor 20K flows. Later, DCNM 11.5 elevated this scale to 60K flows. In 2021, the primary launch of NDFC 12.0.0 elevated the variety of monitored flows to 250K, which was additional elevated to 500K with 12.1.1 launch. Now, NDFC 12.1.2 can monitor 1 million flows delivering 50x enhance over the past 5 years.

This elevated scale gives two key advantages. First, it permits monitoring each circulation, which is required as a result of customers have no idea when and the place an issue could floor. SAN Insights constantly displays efficiency of I/O flows proactively and their historical past is obtainable when an anomaly is detected (extra on anomaly detection shortly). The second motive is that even a material with only some switches can have a whole lot of hundreds of flows. For instance, one buyer has 180K flows in a material of simply 4 switches. When accounting for twin materials, the circulation depend of their atmosphere is roughly 380K. NDFC can monitor these environments in an always-on style and may scale occasion additional.

5. SAN Insights Anomaly Detection

Not simply monitoring, NDFC can routinely detect anomalies in any of the million flows. You may set the insurance policies of your selection or just activate the ready-made insurance policies in NDFC. For instance, NDFC can create an anomaly coverage to inform the admins when learn or write I/O operations to a LUN (for SCSI site visitors) or Namespace (for NVMe site visitors) takes longer than 500 microseconds. Anomaly detection helps in detecting storage efficiency points a lot sooner than software is affected.

This characteristic of anomaly detection doesn’t exist in DCNM. Monitoring and the power to detect anomalies in one million flows is feasible solely due to the microservices-based structure of NDFC.

6. Present DCNM Options

It isn’t simple, however we are attempting onerous to exceed the excessive bar set by DCNM. Within the final two years, we now have added (and redesigned) most DCNM options to NDFC, corresponding to zoning, efficiency monitoring, machine alias administration, interactive topologies, programmable experiences, SAN Insights, VM integration, UCS site visitors visualization, config backup and restore, change picture administration, and a lengthy record of options. For the long-time customers of DCNM, particularly those that nonetheless use its Java GUI (often known as thick shopper), the expertise of utilizing NDFC is totally different. I like to recommend beginning this transition earlier than later. Whereas making this transition, we’re open to your concepts for including new options and enhancing current options.

7. New Options and Administration of Newer Switches solely in NDFC

Not simply including current options from DCNM, however we’re additionally growing new options in NDFC. The important thing factors it that these new options are solely entering into NDFC. For instance, the brand new Configuration Monitor characteristic routinely detects any drift from a golden NX-OS config and generates alarms (Determine 1). This detects any unintentional adjustments and helps in stopping injury to your atmosphere.

Apart from new options, the newer 64GFC MDS switches (MDS 9124V, MDS 9148V, and later) can solely be managed by NDFC.

We nonetheless assist DCNM and haven’t but introduced its finish of life. However we’re not including new options and assist for newer switches in DCNM. All of the innovation goes solely to NDFC.

ndfc san
Determine 1: NDFC routinely detects and notifies drift in NX-OS configuration.

8. Run NDFC as a Bodily Equipment

Bodily equipment (known as pND) is a brand new deployment mannequin for NDFC. Like Cisco Nexus and MDS switches the place the {hardware} and software program (NX-OS) is absolutely supported by Cisco, the pND {hardware} and software program are additionally absolutely supported by Cisco. This reduces the dependency on different groups for deploying and sustaining NDFC.

NDFC SAN Controller will also be deployed on RHEL (known as rND) or as an OVA on ESXi (known as vND). We provide this flexibility as a way to select the most suitable choice on your atmosphere. If you happen to see worth in utilizing the bodily equipment (pND), that is one more reason for upgrading from DCNM to NDFC.

9. VM Visitors Visibility

NDFC stitches end-to-end flows between VM and LUN (for SCSI site visitors). This makes VM-Initiator-Goal-LUN (VM-ITL) circulation in SAN Insights. For NVMe site visitors, an identical circulation is known as VM-ITN circulation the place N represents a Namespace.

DCNM gives I/O flows at a granularity of ITL or ITN. Stitching these flows to a VM requires handbook correlation in vCenter. NDFC simplifies this step by routinely correlating ITL and ITN flows with the VMs.

This VM-ITL and VM-ITN circulation visibility in NDFC results in a lot quicker decision of gradual efficiency points.

ndfc san

10. Forestall SAN Congestion and Sluggish-Drain utilizing DIRL

Congestion Evaluation characteristic in NDFC (successor of DCNM Sluggish Drain Evaluation) gives a topology visualization of the supply, trigger, and time of congestion. One other new characteristic, known as Occasion Analytics, routinely receives congestion alerts from the Port-Monitor characteristic on the MDS switches. These new options in NDFC permit correlation and investigation of congestion points utilizing intuitive charts and developments.

Apart from detecting congestion, NDFC additionally permits configuring Dynamic Ingress Fee Limiting (DIRL), which is a singular innovation on MDS switches for stopping congestion. NDFC additionally visualizes the outcomes of DIRL that additional permit optimizing congestion thresholds.

These new enhancements for detecting and stopping congestion are solely obtainable in NDFC. You may proceed to make use of Sluggish-Drain Evaluation in DCNM however the full advantage of Congestion Evaluation and skill to configure and visualize DIRL is feasible solely after upgrading to NDFC.

The right way to Improve from DCNM to NDFC SAN?

We offer a software to simplify the improve from DCNM to NDFC SAN Controller. This software takes the backup of the found cloth, alarm insurance policies, server setting, and even the efficiency monitoring knowledge from DCNM and restores these to NDFC.

My private advice is to run DCNM and NDFC in parallel for some time. Then decommission DCNM solely after you might be comfy working NDFC. In case your automation infrastructure depends on DCNM, this method provides sufficient time to replace and confirm NDFC RESTful APIs.

Discuss with the white paper for a step-by-step steering for upgrading from DCNM to NDFC.


We proceed to assist DCNM and haven’t but introduced its finish of life. However new improvements and assist for newer switches is obtainable solely inside NDFC. With the third main launch, scale of one million I/O flows, stability, and newer options, now could be the proper time for upgrading from DCNM to NDFC SAN Controller. Beginning this transition sooner provides sufficient time for a swish improve, get aware of the Nexus Dashboard platform, and confirm automation.

If you happen to wish to see any new options in NDFC, please attain out to us by way of your account workforce or depart a remark beneath.


To be taught extra about NDFC, confer with the next sources.





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