Enterprises of all sizes are increasingly leveraging virtualization and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). This technology delivers reliable and secure compute resources for operations while reducing data center footprint. HCI clusters rely on robust, feature-rich networking fabrics to deliver on-premises solutions that can seamlessly connect to the cloud.
Microsoft Azure Stack HCI is a hyperconverged infrastructure cluster solution that can run containerized applications. It hosts virtualized Windows and Linux workloads and storage in a hybrid environment that combines on-premises infrastructure with Azure cloud services. The server components of Azure Stack HCI can be interconnected using devices that support the appropriate validation requirements.
NVIDIA Spectrum Ethernet switches are purpose-built networking solutions designed to support the requirements of Microsoft Azure Stack HCI. This on-premises solution enables enterprises to leverage cloud functionality, effectively creating a hybrid cloud solution.
Spectrum switches provide end-to-end ethernet for reliable networking with Azure Stack HCI. Spectrum switches also are available in multiple form factors including half-width 10/25/100 Gb/s TORs, two of which can be installed side-by-side in 1 RU (rack unit) space to accommodate the throughput, port density, and high availability required.
The NVIDIA networking team worked closely with the Microsoft networking team to ensure that NVIDIA Spectrum switches meet the physical network requirements for Azure Stack HCI, including:
- Priority Flow Control
- Enhanced Transmission Selection
- Custom TLVs in LLDP transmission
These features are delivered through Cumulus Linux (starting with version 5.1 and continuing in all subsequent releases), the flagship network operating system for NVIDIA Ethernet switches. Cumulus Linux is an open operating system with a “drive it your way” philosophy for management. It comes with a comprehensive data model based CLI known as NVUE (NVIDIA User Experience). But since it is a Linux network operating system, users can interact with Cumulus Linux as a pure Linux system. The flexibility of the configuration methodology allows it to easily integrate with whatever automation toolset you prefer.
“We are pleased to see NVIDIA Spectrum Ethernet switches optimized for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI,” says Tim Isaacs, General Manager at Microsoft. “With the combination of the newly introduced Network HUD feature in the latest Azure Stack HCI release and NVIDIA’s updated Cumulus Linux network operating system for Spectrum Ethernet switches, we can jointly provide our customers rich and robust visibility into their Azure Stack HCI network environment.”
Finally, NVIDIA worked closely with the Microsoft team to create standardized configurations for the switches to optimize traffic between the different hyperconverged nodes. Through testing a full Azure Stack HCI deployment using NVIDIA Spectrum switches, the configurations were generated to ensure a seamless experience during server deployment. These configurations are available through the Microsoft standard deployment experience.