HomeCloud ComputingPrime Ten Advantages of Upgrading from DCNM to NDFC SAN

Prime Ten Advantages of Upgrading from DCNM to NDFC SAN

Cisco Knowledge Heart Community Supervisor (DCNM) has lengthy been thought of the gold normal of SAN administration due to its stability, wealthy options, and broad adoption. DCNM has been round and serving clients very nicely for over twenty years. It was initially featured together with the launch of the MDS 9000 switches. Again then, it was referred to as Material Supervisor and this identify is utilized in conversations even to this present day. That was the time when functions used a monolithic design. Nevertheless, occasions have modified, and during the last decade, software program growth has undergone a complete makeover. As a substitute of a giant monolith, nowadays an utility is split into a number of microservices. Then, every of those companies runs in its devoted containers. This microservices-based design results in many advantages, equivalent to greater scale, improved safety, greater availability, and sooner growth.

DCNM’s monolithic design, regardless of serving nicely for twenty years, is unable to unleash the total potential of circulate visibility, real-time analytics, and better scale. As a substitute of attempting to retrofit these advantages into DCNM, we rewrote the complete utility from scratch utilizing the microservices structure. Throughout this contemporary growth, we additionally gave it a brand new identify referred to as Nexus Dashboard Material Controller (NDFC).

Word: The main target of this put up is on NDFC SAN Controller.

Advantages of Upgrading from DCNM to NDFC SAN Controller

In January 2023, we launched the third main launch (12.1.2) of NDFC SAN Controller. This makes the right time to improve from DCNM to NDFC not simply because three is a magic quantity, but additionally due to ten causes that I’m sharing on this put up.

1. Upgrading from DCNM to NDFC is Free

We designed NDFC to honor the prevailing DCNM licenses. This funding safety turns into much more rewarding with the distinctive longevity of Cisco switches due to in-place upgrades to the upper speeds. For instance, clients who purchased MDS 9710 with DCNM license in 2013 can improve to NDFC in 2023 utilizing the identical license. Simply to be clear, any newly bought Nexus and MDS switches nonetheless require new NDFC licenses. However NDFC will be capable to handle any present switches you’ve already bought DCNM licenses for. Basically, it’s free to improve from DCNM to NDFC.

2. Lively-Lively Clustering for Excessive-Availability

The internet hosting platform of NDFC, referred to as Nexus Dashboard (ND), offers native active-active clustering. You possibly can deploy 3 nodes of Nexus Dashboard in a cluster after which set up a single occasion of NDFC on it. The person expertise for SAN Administration stays unchanged no matter 1-node ND or a 3-node ND cluster. Nevertheless, with 3-node cluster, ND robotically distributes microservices on a number of nodes. If one node fails, the prevailing two nodes proceed to run NDFC. This achieves an unprecedented reliability for SAN Administration and Insights.

Lively-Lively clustering doesn’t exist in DCNM. It has a unique implementation for attaining excessive availability, referred to as Federation. However due to the dependency on an exterior Oracle RAC database, DCNM Federation will increase the entire price of possession. In distinction, Nexus Dashboard natively integrates distributed database companies for attaining active-active clustering. This design makes excessive availability of NDFC way more reasonably priced.

To this present day NDFC is the one SAN administration software program to supply a real extremely accessible structure to drastically enhance up-time and availability for SAN operations. In a time when down-time is solely unacceptable, this structure delivers piece of thoughts even on the community administration facet of the enterprise.

3. NDFC One View – Single-pane-of-glass Throughout A number of NDFC Servers

NDFC One View offers centralized administration and visualization of a number of SAN environments which can be managed by completely different NDFC servers. Utilizing an executive-level dashboard of One View, you may seamlessly navigate to a taking part NDFC server utilizing Single Signal-On (SSO). This results in sooner troubleshooting and simplified Day 2 operations.

There is no such thing as a additional license for NDFC One View. If you have already got DCNM/NDFC license for managing the switches, you can begin utilizing NDFC One View as we speak with no additional price.

DCNM doesn’t provide an analogous characteristic. In case you have a number of DCNM servers managing completely different SAN environments, getting a unified view throughout all these DCNM servers is feasible solely after upgrading to NDFC.

4. Greater Scale

Beginning 12.1.2 launch, NDFC can handle as much as 40K ports (earlier 20K ports) and as much as 160 switches (earlier 80 switches). This elevated scale helps to consolidate a number of DCNM servers in fewer NDFC servers, and therefore saves time, effort, and cash.

Apart from the material scale, SAN Insights can now monitor as much as 1 million I/O flows per NDFC server. When SAN Insights was first added to DCNM 11 in 2018, it may monitor 20K flows. Later, DCNM 11.5 elevated this scale to 60K flows. In 2021, the primary launch of NDFC 12.0.0 elevated the variety of monitored flows to 250K, which was additional elevated to 500K with 12.1.1 launch. Now, NDFC 12.1.2 can monitor 1 million flows delivering 50x improve during the last 5 years.

This elevated scale offers two key advantages. First, it permits monitoring each circulate, which is required as a result of customers have no idea when and the place an issue might floor. SAN Insights constantly displays efficiency of I/O flows proactively and their historical past is on the market when an anomaly is detected (extra on anomaly detection shortly). The second cause is that even a cloth with just a few switches can have lots of of 1000’s of flows. For instance, one buyer has 180K flows in a cloth of simply 4 switches. When accounting for twin materials, the circulate rely of their setting is roughly 380K. NDFC can monitor these environments in an always-on style and might scale occasion additional.

5. SAN Insights Anomaly Detection

Not simply monitoring, NDFC can robotically detect anomalies in any of the million flows. You possibly can set the insurance policies of your alternative or just activate the ready-made insurance policies in NDFC. For instance, NDFC can create an anomaly coverage to inform the admins when learn or write I/O operations to a LUN (for SCSI visitors) or Namespace (for NVMe visitors) takes longer than 500 microseconds. Anomaly detection helps in detecting storage efficiency points a lot sooner than utility is affected.

This characteristic of anomaly detection doesn’t exist in DCNM. Monitoring and the power to detect anomalies in one million flows is feasible solely due to the microservices-based structure of NDFC.

6. Present DCNM Options

It isn’t simple, however we are attempting laborious to exceed the excessive bar set by DCNM. Within the final two years, we now have added (and redesigned) most DCNM options to NDFC, equivalent to zoning, efficiency monitoring, gadget alias administration, interactive topologies, programmable experiences, SAN Insights, VM integration, UCS visitors visualization, config backup and restore, swap picture administration, and a lengthy checklist of options. For the long-time customers of DCNM, particularly those that nonetheless use its Java GUI (often known as thick shopper), the expertise of utilizing NDFC is completely different. I like to recommend beginning this transition ahead of later. Whereas making this transition, we’re open to your concepts for including new options and enhancing present options.

7. New Options and Administration of Newer Switches solely in NDFC

Not simply including present options from DCNM, however we’re additionally creating new options in NDFC. The important thing factors it that these new options are solely moving into NDFC. For instance, the brand new Configuration Monitor characteristic robotically detects any drift from a golden NX-OS config and generates alarms (Determine 1). This detects any unintentional modifications and helps in stopping injury to your setting.

Apart from new options, the newer 64GFC MDS switches (MDS 9124V, MDS 9148V, and later) can solely be managed by NDFC.

We nonetheless assist DCNM and haven’t but introduced its finish of life. However we’re not including new options and assist for newer switches in DCNM. All of the innovation goes solely to NDFC.

ndfc san
Determine 1: NDFC robotically detects and notifies drift in NX-OS configuration.

8. Run NDFC as a Bodily Equipment

Bodily equipment (referred to as pND) is a brand new deployment mannequin for NDFC. Like Cisco Nexus and MDS switches the place the {hardware} and software program (NX-OS) is totally supported by Cisco, the pND {hardware} and software program are additionally totally supported by Cisco. This reduces the dependency on different groups for deploying and sustaining NDFC.

NDFC SAN Controller can be deployed on RHEL (referred to as rND) or as an OVA on ESXi (referred to as vND). We provide this flexibility so that you could select the best choice in your setting. When you see worth in utilizing the bodily equipment (pND), that is another excuse for upgrading from DCNM to NDFC.

9. VM Site visitors Visibility

NDFC stitches end-to-end flows between VM and LUN (for SCSI visitors). This makes VM-Initiator-Goal-LUN (VM-ITL) circulate in SAN Insights. For NVMe visitors, an analogous circulate is known as VM-ITN circulate the place N represents a Namespace.

DCNM offers I/O flows at a granularity of ITL or ITN. Stitching these flows to a VM requires handbook correlation in vCenter. NDFC simplifies this step by robotically correlating ITL and ITN flows with the VMs.

This VM-ITL and VM-ITN circulate visibility in NDFC results in a lot sooner decision of gradual efficiency points.

ndfc san

10. Forestall SAN Congestion and Sluggish-Drain utilizing DIRL

Congestion Evaluation characteristic in NDFC (successor of DCNM Sluggish Drain Evaluation) offers a topology visualization of the supply, trigger, and time of congestion. One other new characteristic, referred to as Occasion Analytics, robotically receives congestion alerts from the Port-Monitor characteristic on the MDS switches. These new options in NDFC permit correlation and investigation of congestion points utilizing intuitive charts and developments.

Apart from detecting congestion, NDFC additionally permits configuring Dynamic Ingress Price Limiting (DIRL), which is a singular innovation on MDS switches for stopping congestion. NDFC additionally visualizes the outcomes of DIRL that additional permit optimizing congestion thresholds.

These new enhancements for detecting and stopping congestion are solely accessible in NDFC. You possibly can proceed to make use of Sluggish-Drain Evaluation in DCNM however the full good thing about Congestion Evaluation and skill to configure and visualize DIRL is feasible solely after upgrading to NDFC.

How one can Improve from DCNM to NDFC SAN?

We offer a instrument to simplify the improve from DCNM to NDFC SAN Controller. This instrument takes the backup of the found material, alarm insurance policies, server setting, and even the efficiency monitoring knowledge from DCNM and restores these to NDFC.

My private suggestion is to run DCNM and NDFC in parallel for some time. Then decommission DCNM solely after you’re comfy working NDFC. In case your automation infrastructure depends on DCNM, this method offers sufficient time to replace and confirm NDFC RESTful APIs.

Confer with the white paper for a step-by-step steering for upgrading from DCNM to NDFC.


We proceed to assist DCNM and haven’t but introduced its finish of life. However new improvements and assist for newer switches is on the market solely inside NDFC. With the third main launch, scale of one million I/O flows, stability, and newer options, now could be the right time for upgrading from DCNM to NDFC SAN Controller. Beginning this transition sooner offers sufficient time for a swish improve, get conversant in the Nexus Dashboard platform, and confirm automation.

When you prefer to see any new options in NDFC, please attain out to us by way of your account group or depart a remark beneath.


To study extra about NDFC, check with the next assets.




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