Author: Bala Ramachandran, Big Switch Networks Director of Product Management

Nutanix Hyper Converged systems natively offer converged compute, storage and virtualization for all enterprise workloads at any scale by leveraging a distributed, scale-out architecture. Through software innovation, Nutanix solutions aggregate storage capacity across multiple servers and present them as a single logical disk to applications.  When using Big Cloud Fabric as the networking fabric in this hyper converged environment, it creates a very synergistic logical abstraction for the  physical network by leveraging software-defined networking (SDN) principles to present the scale-out network fabric as a single logical switch to the applications.

Big Cloud Fabric (BCF) is the ideal SDN fabric for Nutanix hyper converged DC built with open networking (brite-box/white-box) switch hardware. It delivers the next-generation data center switching architecture offering unprecedented operational velocity, network automation at VM speed and end-to-end visibility for software-defined, hyper converged data centers and cloud-native applications.  BCF provides these modern benefits while offering dramatic CapEx reduction and enabling hardware vendor choice versus legacy box-based solutions that are proprietary and expensive.

Nutanix + Big Cloud Fabric: Joint HCI Solution

Solution Synergies

Built-in Network Automation

The solution streamlines application deployment workflows by automating the physical network configuration for the VM workloads. There are several Fabric automation benefits:

1) Auto Host Detection and Link Aggregation

Nutanix ESXi nodes connected to BCF are automatically discovered by BCF controller. The BCF controller then automatically creates link aggregation groups (LAGs) with the leaf switches making this a zero-touch operation.  Server/storage team can now add/move/replace Nutanix nodes at will without ever interacting with the networking team -- network is no longer a barrier to scalable HCI deployment.  Simultaneously, network team has full visibility to Nutanix nodes attached to the Big Cloud Fabric.

2) Auto L2 Network Creation

As the virtual switch port-groups are created, modified, or deleted as part of application deployment process, BCF controller gets notified of these events and automatically creates, modifies or deletes the corresponding BCF Layer-2 network segments.  Even physical network changes during vMotion are automatically provisioned.  Net-net, BCF enables physical fabric to operate at the speed of VMs. 

End-to-end Visibility & Troubleshooting Benefits

Due to single pane of glass visibility via the BCF controller, the solution provides unprecedented end-to-end visibility and troubleshooting benefits to Network admins.

1) VM-level Visibility

BCF provides both VM-level and host-level visibility, including:

  • host names, host vmNICs, and the physical fabric interfaces to which the hosts are connected.

  • VM names, VM Mac & IP addresses, VM description

Such granular visibility of virtualization domain enables the network admin to have a consistent view and help resolve issues rapidly during troubleshooting session with HCI/virtualization team.


2) VM-to-VM Fabric Trace

VM-to-VM traffic visibility across the entire leaf-spine fabric can be visually displayed on the BCF controller between any two VMs, as shown below. This level of visibility to traffic on a single-pane of glass just cannot be achieved with box-by-box networking and offers tremendous operational savings.

3) Fabric Analytics

BCF provides advanced fabric analytics which captures VM-related information (name, creation time, pNIC info, port-groups), and time-series of events related to VMs. An example of vMotion event is replayed in the diagram below.

Such historical event repository integrated with multi-vector analytics engine become extremely useful tools and can save operators several hours in configuration, troubleshooting

BCF Nutanix Ready Validation

Big Switch Networks is a member of the Nutanix technology alliance partner program, Nutanix Elevate and Big Cloud Fabric (BCF) is now validated Nutanix Ready Core for networking. Validated solution components consist of: Big Cloud Fabric Version 4.2, Nutanix AOS, and VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5b.

Multiple customers have already deployed this joint solution across different verticals and geographies.  

For further technical details of the joint solution, please check out
the joint webinar and the following demo video.