Big Cloud Fabric™ – a modern Clos (leaf/spine) fabric leveraging SDN and open networking switches – has become a popular choice for deploying pods across OpenStack IaaS cloud, Big Data Analytics, or VDI. Customers are attracted to BCF for the following reasons:

  • Logical network architecture allows faster app deployment
  • SDN-based controller provides single pane of glass and zero-touch operations
  • Open networking switches from Accton and Dell, yields vendor choice and significantly reduce CapEx (compared to closed, proprietary switches)

Our latest Big Cloud Fabric 2.6 release now supports network automation and visibility for vSphere server virtualization as well as NSX network virtualization.  Specifically:

  • Network automation: Physical network (leaf & spine switch) configuration is completely automated. When hosts are added or host links are added/removed, manual intervention is no longer required. When VMs are created/deleted/moved, the physical network automatically adjusts (creates/prunes networks as necessary). With Big Cloud Fabric, the network now moves at the speed of VMs – a scenario unheard of in traditional box-by-box networking
  • Visibility & Trouble-shooting: The Network team has complete visibility to virtualized environments, including hosts & host LAGs, VMs and vMotion events.  This is necessary for rapid trouble-shooting during VM connectivity issues.  In addition, with fabric trace capability of Big Clous Fabric across source-leaf/spine/destination-leaf, network admins can quickly identify whether or not an issue is on the physical network. The ability to rapidly root-cause across network and virtualization environment is necessary to quickly resolve issues and minimize application downtime.

Details of network automation and visibility to vSphere and NSX are listed in the tables below.


Big Cloud Fabric’s Advanced Network Automation and Visibility for vSphere

Big Cloud Fabric 2.6 controller includes vCenter extension (see figure below) that programmatically interacts with vCenter for automating physical fabric configuration and enabling VM-level visibility. The physical network is now a first-class citizen, responding in seconds to match the change velocity of VMs. Also, BCF’s Fabric Analytics module is extended to provide VM-level visibility – a capability much desired by network admins.

BCF Integration with vSphere


Demonstration of BCF’s advance network automation and visibility for vSphere hosts and VMs is available here.

BCF’s Underlay Visibility and Troubleshooting for NSX

When deploying NSX-based overlay for network virtualization and/or micro-segmentation, network teams are often concerned about box-by-box physical network being blind to overlays. Architecturally speaking, NSX being an SDN overlay (operating like one logical v-switch) is best served by an SDN underlay (operating like one logical p-switch) like Big Cloud Fabric.

Big Cloud Fabric’s deployment with NSX (and vSphere) is shown in the figure below.  Given that its scope is fabric-wide, the Big Cloud Fabric controller automates troubleshooting of VTEP-to-VTEP traffic on the underlay. An example of such a trace across source-VTEP/source-leaf/spine/dest-leaf/dest-VTEP displayed in the Big Cloud Fabric controller GUI is also in the diagram below.

NSX overlay visibility to BCF underlay is equally important so network admins have a consistent view of overlay environment. BCF’s Fabric Analytics module is extended to include both VM-level and overlay network visibility, as shown in the figure below. Correlations across VMname, VXLAN ID (or VNI), and Logical Switch are also provided to simplify debugging of VM connectivity issues. 



Demonstration of BCF’s support for NSX, including overlay visibility and trouble-shooting, is available here.

Expanded Switch HW: The 2.6 release also supports Dell S4048 switch, a Broadcom Trident-II based switch with 48x10G and 6x40G interfaces. Dell S6000 – a Trident-II based 32x40G switch – was already supported in the earlier release, including support for splitter cables. Customers can now build ultra low-cost 10G/40G fabric with britebox switches from Dell (S4048 and S6000) or with ODM whitebox switches from Accton.

Availability and Pricing: BCF 2.6 is now shipping. It’s easy to experience BCF’s advanced features for vSphere and NSX:

  • Experience BCF 2.6 online for free – Register for BSN Labs
  • Try it in your labs with $39K Starter Kit (includes HW switches, Big Cloud Fabric SW subscription and technical support for both HW and SW)

To learn more: Register for the Upcoming Big Cloud Fabric 2.6 Launch Webinar


– Prashant Gandhi

VP of Product Management & Strategy