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 EMC 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.
In this profile setting, VxRail uses the SmartFabric feature to discover VxRail nodes and Dell EMC switches on the network, perform zero-touch configuration of the switch fabric to support VxRail deployment, and then create a unified hyperconverged infrastructure of the VxRail cluster and Dell EMC switch network fabric.
Figure 9 Dell EMC SmartFabric for VxRail
For ongoing VxRail cluster network management after initial deployment, the Dell EMC OMNI (Open Manage Network Interface) vCenter plug-in is provided free of charge. The Dell EMC OMNI plug-in enables the integration and orchestration of the physical and virtual networking components in the VxRail-SmartFabric HCI stack, providing deep visibility from the vClient for ease of overall management and troubleshooting. The Dell EMC 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 EMC 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.
Figure 10 SmartFabric-enabled multi-rack network expansion
Planning for VxRail with the Dell EMC SmartFabric networking feature must be done in coordination with Dell Technologies representatives to ensure a successful deployment. The planned infrastructure must be a supported configuration as outlined in the VxRail Support Matrix.
Using the Dell EMC 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, reference the Dell EMC 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 Technologies InfoHub.