Dell network switches support SmartFabric Services, which enable the configuration and operation of the switches to be controlled outside of the standard management console through a REST API interface. Certain Dell switch models support initializing the switches with a SmartFabric personality, which enables the switches to be configured with tools and methods outside of the standard switch console.
The SmartFabric personality profile enables VxRail to become one of the sources for the automated configuration and administration of the Dell switches. In this setting, VxRail can discover the switches over the network to determine what method to use for configuration. VxRail and switches in SmartFabric mode support both ‘integrated’ and ‘decoupled’ mode.
The ‘decoupled mode’ option means that there is no relationship established between the VxRail cluster and the switches in SmartFabric mode. The configuration of the switches to support VxRail networking is performed using tools and methods supported by Dell networking, and must be completed before attempting to build a VxRail cluster.
With the ‘integrated mode’ option, a zero-touch configuration of the switch fabric is performed, an action which creates a unified hyperconverged infrastructure of the VxRail cluster and Dell switch network fabric.
For ongoing VxRail cluster network management after initial deployment in ‘integrated mode’, the Dell Open Manage Network Interface (OMNI) vCenter plug-in is provided free of charge. The Dell OMNI plug-in enables the integration and orchestration of the physical and virtual networking components in the VxRail-SmartFabric HCI stack. It provides deep visibility from the vClient for ease of overall management and troubleshooting. The Dell OMNI plug-in serves as the centralized point of administration for SmartFabric-enabled networks in the data center, with a user interface eliminating the need to manage the switches individually at the console level.
The orchestration of SmartFabric Services with the VxRail cluster means that state changes to the virtual network settings on the vCenter instance will be synchronized to the switch fabric using REST API. In this scenario, there is no need to manually reconfigure the switches that are connected to the VxRail nodes when an update such as a new VLAN, port group, or virtual switch, is made using the vClient.
The SmartFabric-enabled networking infrastructure can start as small as a pair of Dell Ethernet switches, and can expand to support a leaf-spine topology across multiple racks. A VxLAN-based tunnel is automatically configured across the leaf and spine switches, which enable the VxRail nodes to be discovered and absorbed into a VxRail cluster from any rack within the switch fabric.
Planning for VxRail with the Dell SmartFabric networking feature must be done in coordination with Dell representatives to ensure a successful deployment. The planned infrastructure must be a supported configuration as outlined in the Dell Networking Solutions Support Matrix.
The supported SmartFabric modes are dependent on the VxRail version running on the cluster:
Using the Dell SmartFabric feature with VxRail requires an understanding of several key points:
For more information about how to plan and prepare for a deployment of VxRail clusters on a SmartFabric-enabled network, see the Dell VxRail with SmartFabric Planning and Preparation Guide. For more information about the deployment process of a VxRail cluster on a SmartFabric-enabled network, go to VxRail Networking Solutions at Dell InfoHub.