As modern, open and software-driven networks change how cloud providers and enterprises approach the data center, the need to simplify management and increase efficiency across virtual and physical network environments has never been greater.
The Dell EMC SmartFabric Director enables data center operators to build, operate and monitor an open network underlay fabric based on Dell EMC Open Networking PowerSwitch Series switches. SmartFabric Director automates and simplifies the provisioning and monitoring of the fabric using Openconfig based models and protocols. Tight integration with VMware vSphere and NSX-T allows SmartFabric Director to dramatically simplify fabric provisioning for dynamic virtualized workloads and overlays.
SmartFabric Director – a Joint collaboration effort between Dell Technologies and VMWare – had the following goals in mind, as we embarked on the project:
- Simplicity: Reduce the steps to deploy a fabric while providing a single point for fabric lifecycle management.
- Openness: Support for open standards to maximize flexibility, interoperability and technology investment.
- Consistency: Apply a consistent policy and automation framework across physical and virtual environments to reduce complexity while increasing efficiency.
Most Enterprises have a variety of applications and tools to aid the Data Center Networks. It was important for SFD to fit into the Customers’ Software Architecture, which meant supporting programmatic interfaces and not just GUI. SFD has an API-First mindset – anything support through the Graphical User Interface (GUI) is also supported through an API – from Day One. SFD supports a REST based Northbound API to enable orchestration systems to programmatically use the product.
gNMI (gRPC Network Management Interface) is a protocol that provides the mechanism to manipulate (create, update, delete) the configuration of network devices, and state retrieval. The content provided can be modeled with, but not limited to, YANG objects using a path consisting of elements names and map attributes. gNMI uses vendor neutral Openconfig YANG Objects to describe the elements and attributes. gNMI is built on top of gRPC.
gRPC an open source framework developed by Google and managed by CNCF (Cloud Native Compute Foundation). The RPC framework built on top of HTTP/2. The framework allows for Unary, server streaming, client streaming and bi-directional streaming RPCs. gNMI allows for Multiplexing of RPCs over a single channel provided by library.
Data exchanged between SFD and Switches is encoded using Google Protocol Buffers. Protocol Buffers (a.k.a., protobuf) are language-neutral, platform-neutral, extensible mechanisms for serializing structured data.
OpenConfig started as an informal working group of network operators with the goal of moving networks toward a more dynamic, programmable infrastructure by adopting software-defined networking principles such as declarative configuration and model-driven management and operations. Initial focus of OpenConfig is on compiling a consistent set of vendor-neutral data models (written in YANG) based on operational needs from use cases and requirements from multiple network operators. Openconfig also enables Streaming telemetry for network monitoring in which data is streamed from devices continuously with efficient, incremental updates. Operators can subscribe to the specific data items they need, using OpenConfig data models as the common interface.
For more on Dell EMC SmartFabric Director, visit our website here.