Automated Network Provisioning for VMs with Mellanox and Nutanix

Version 4

    Applications in enterprise clouds are virtualized, running from virtual machines (VMs) or containers spun up from physical servers. This allows cloud applications to utilize the most optimal resources available, use them only when needed, and share resources to achieve the best efficiency. For instance, compute-intensive applications run on VMs residing on servers equipped with powerful CPUs and lots of memory. Storage-heavy applications run on VMs with lots of local storage; and when resource availability or needs change, applications on VMs are migrated live to a different host, with no downtime or disruption.


    In parallel, enterprises are employing the hyper-converged infrastructure for their clouds. The hyper-converged infrastructure natively converges storage and compute into standard x86 servers. These x86 servers, containing local direct-attached storage, are clustered into a software-defined platform that allocates resources to VMs running on these servers in a most efficient way.

    Such application mobility, scalability and availability in your enterprise cloud over a hyper-converged platform must be supported by a network infrastructure that is high performance, easy to scale and highly available. With all these elements (i.e., the best hyper-converged infrastructure and a best network of these great qualities), you have now built your enterprise cloud.

    But you are not done yet.


    Enterprise Clouds Should be Automated


    As the saying goes, time is money. Don’t you want to complete building your cloud in hours, rather than days or weeks? Deploy an application on a VM with one mouse click? Or migrate an application transparently from a failing node to a good node or for load balancing?


    Requiring faster deployment times with no tolerance for business disruption means that doing manual network reconfiguration is not just costly, but will fail your enterprise cloud and hyper-converged infrastructure badly. And this doesn’t even take into account the hundreds or thousands of applications and VMs you need to manage.


    Your cloud is incomplete until you build in networking automation – automated provisioning, automated management, automated recovery, etc.


    For the remaining of this blog, I will show you how Mellanox NEO™ network management software works seamlessly with Nutanix Prism™ infrastructure management software to provide you with VM-level network visibility and automated network provisioning. So, with just one click, everything simply works when you spin up, migrate or retire a VM for your application.


    NEO + Prism = Automated Network Provisioning for VMs


    Nutanix Prism is a centralized infrastructure management solution for virtualized datacenter environments. It brings unprecedented simplicity by managing the entire stack from the storage and compute infrastructure all the way up to virtual machines (VMs). Key features of Prism include storage management, VM management, network virtualization, and virtual network management.


    Mellanox NEO is a powerful platform, designed to simplify network provisioning, monitoring and operations of the modern data center. NEO offers robust automation capabilities from network staging and bring-up, to day-to-day operations.


    To complement the advanced features of Nutanix Prism for running virtual workloads, Mellanox NEO adds another layer of seamless orchestration and management for the underlying network fabric.

    Through deep API–to-API integration, NEO is subscribed to Prism's event notifications and receives real-time events notifications upon VM creation, migration and deletion. Every time a new VM is spun up through the Prism console, NEO is alerted and automates the creation of the corresponding network on the physical switch where the new VM is provisioned. The same automation capabilities also apply to any changes, migration, and deletion of existing VM workloads. Furthermore, NEO adds the capability to visualize the networking fabric at the VM-level.


    Automated Network Provisioning for VM Creation


    The following NEO screen captures illustrate how NEO automates network provisioning when a VM is created in Prism.



    Figure 1. NEO displays the network map of four Nutanix nodes connected through a Mellanox SN2100 switch.


    Figure 2. A new VM “colo_nj_web01” is created on “NTNX-Block-1-D” in Prism.



    Figure 3. NEO automatically configures the VLAN for the newly created VM, upon the notification from Prism.


    Without this step, the network administrator would have executed the following command at the CLI console of the switch.

    Just imagine when you need to do manual network configuration for hundreds or thousands of VMs this way!

    Figure 4. The information about the newly created VM “colo_nj_web01” is automatically displayed under device “NTNX-Block-1-D”.


    Similarly, NEO automates the network configuration changes when a VM is migrated from one Nutanix node to another. Watch more on NEO network automation for VMs in this YouTube video.


    In summary, the Prism and NEO integration automates network provisioning tasks, and eliminates costly and time-consuming manual operations. As the result, the VM or the business application is always on the right part of the infrastructure with no disruption. Mellanox NEO supports this network automation capability for Mellanox switches running the Mellanox network operating system as well as those running the Cumulus Linux network operating system. Leveraging Nutanix APIs to create this added level of visibility and business continuity presents huge benefits to Nutanix enterprise cloud customers.


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