Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cisco adds sFlow support to Nexus 9K series

Cisco adds support for the sFlow standard in the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series 7.0(3)I2(1) NX-OS Release. Combined with the Nexus 3000/3100 series, which have included sFlow support since NX-OS 5.0(3)U4(1),  Cisco now offers cost effective, built-in, visibility across the full spectrum of data center switches.
Cisco network engineers might not be familiar with the multi-vendor sFlow technology since it is a relatively new addition to Cisco products. The article, Cisco adds sFlow support, describes some of the key features of sFlow and contrasts them to Cisco NetFlow.
Nexus 9000 switches can be operated in NX-OS mode or ACI mode:
  • NX-OS mode includes a number of open features such as sFlow, Python, NX-API, and Bash that integrate with an open ecosystem of orchestration tools such as Puppet, Chef, CFEngine, and Ansible. "By embracing the open culture of development and operations (DevOps) and creating a more Linux-like environment in the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series, Cisco enables IT departments with strong Linux skill sets to meet business needs efficiently," Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches: Integrate Programmability into Your Data Center. Open APIs are becoming increasingly popular, preventing vendor lock-in, and allowing organizations to benefit from the rapidly increasing range of open hardware and software solutions to reduce costs and increase agility.
  • ACI mode is a closed solution that relies on proprietary hardware and places the switches under the control of Cisco's APIC (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller) - eliminating many of the features, including sFlow, available in NX-OS mode. The ACI solution is more expensive and the closed platform locks customers into Cisco hardware and solutions.
SDN fabric controllers compares tightly coupled (ACI) and loosely federated (NX-OS) approaches to virtualizing data center networking and there are a number of articles on this blog exploring use cases for real-time sFlow analytics in the data center.

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