Dell network switches support SmartFabric Services, a feature that enables the configuration and operation of the switches to be controlled outside the standard management console through a REST API interface. Certain Dell switch models support initializing the switches with a SmartFabric personality profile, which then forms a unified network fabric. The SmartFabric personality profile enables VxRail to become the source for the automated configuration and administration of the Dell switches.
With the SmartFabric personality profile setting, VxRail uses the SmartFabric feature to discover VxRail nodes and Dell switches on the network. After discovering the nodes and switches, it performs zero-touch configuration of the switch fabric to support VxRail deployment and then creates a unified HCI of the VxRail cluster and Dell switch network fabric.
For ongoing VxRail cluster network management after initial deployment, the Dell Open Manage Network Interface (OMNI) plug-in for vCenter 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 and SmartFabric HCI stack, providing 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. Its user interface eliminates 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 are synchronized to the switch fabric using a REST API. In this scenario, there is no need to manually reconfigure the switches that are connected to the VxRail nodes when the vClient is used to make an update such as adding a VLAN, port group, or virtual switch.
The SmartFabric enabled networking infrastructure can start as small as a pair of Dell Ethernet switches and expand to support a leaf-spine topology across multiple racks. A VxLAN-based tunnel is automatically configured across the leaf and spine switches. The VxRail nodes can then be discovered and absorbed into a VxRail cluster from any rack within the switch fabric.