One of the best offerings that Dell has within their blade server I/O portfolio is the Dell Force10 10/40 GbE MXL Switch Module. You can check out the full details on my earlier blog post, but at a high level, this switch provides 32 x 10GbE ports downstream to the blade servers while offering up to 6 x 40GbE ports up stream. In addition, up to (6) MXL switch IOMs can be stacked using ring or daisy-chain topology giving it a stacking bandwidth upstream of 320G all while providing intra-chassis communication allowing servers to talk to each other without going out to the Access layer. But, if you have a Cisco network, will this work? Believe it or not, Dell and Cisco can play nice together.
The engineers at Dell recently released an easy-to-use guide of recommended basic deployment practices for the Dell Force10 MXL in the access layer of a Cisco Nexus network environment. I have to warn you though – it’s not for the faint at heart, as it includes detailed command line verbage on how to set it up. If you know what the command ” # feature enable vpc” does within NX-OS, you’ll appreciate this document. The guide is broken up topically as follows:
the and concepts of MXL switch deployment
introduction to the Force10 MXL hardware and its connectivity and management options
the first steps of MXL deployment (including a rapid introduction to some common MXL initial deployment tasks)
downlink (server-side) configuration options
Link Aggregation Group Configuration
Uplink configuration options to the Cisco Nexus network environment: running PVST with discreet LAGs nd running PVST with a single LAG connected across two top-of-rack switches that are using a Multi-chassis LAG
If you have a Cisco Nexus network, take a few minutes to see how easy it is to add a Dell Force10 MXL into your environment. You might just be surprised at what you find.
Download the complete whitepaper titled, “Deploying the Dell Force10 MXL into a Cisco Nexus Network Environment” at http://bit.ly/DellMXLonNexus
Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com. He has over 15 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace. Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization. Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global 500 market.
Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are personal views and may or may not reflect any of the contributors’ employer’s positions. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any employer.
Finally – information on the soon-to-be-released Cisco Nexus 4000 switch for IBM BladeCenter. Apparently IBM is officially calling their version “Cisco Nexus Switch Module 4001I for the IBM BladeCenter.” I’m not sure if it’s “officially” announced yet, but I’ve uncovered some details. Here is a summary of the Cisco Nexus Switch Module 4001I for the IBM BladeCenter:
Six external 10-Gb Ethernet ports for uplink
14 internal XAUI ports for connection to the server blades in the chassis
One 10/100/1000BASE-T RJ-45 copper management port for out-of-band management link (this port is available on the front panel next to the console port)
One external RS-232 serial console port (this port is available on the front panel and uses an RJ-45 connector)
More tidbits of info:
The switch will be capable of forwarding Ethernet and FCoE packets at wire rate speed.
The six external ports will be SFP+ (no surprise) and they’ll support 10GBASE-SR SFP+, 10GBASE-LR SFP+, 10GBASE-CU SFP+ and GE-SFP.
Internal port speeds can run at 1 Gb or 10Gb (and can be set to auto-negotiate); full duplex
Internal ports will be able to forward Layer-2 packets at wire rate speed.
The switch will work in the IBM BladeCenter “high-speed bays” (bays 7, 8, 9 and 10); however at this time, the available Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) for the IBM blade servers will only work with Nexus 4001I’s located in bays 7 and 9.
There is also mention of a “Nexus 4005I” from IBM, but I can’t find anything on that. I do not believe that IBM has announced this product, so the information provided is based on documentation from Cisco’s web site. I expect announcement to come in the next 2 weeks, though, with availability probably following in November just in time for the Christmas rush!