Automating Data Center Networks with NVIDIA Cumulus Linux

With evolving and ever-growing data centers, the days of simple networks that remained mostly unchanged are gone. Back then, when a configuration change was needed, it was simple for the network administrator to make the changes device per device, line-by-line.

As data centers evolve from physical on-premises to digitized cloud infrastructures, the traditional networks have evolved too. They are required to grow based on business demand. This places an increased burden on network operations teams to manage, maintain, and continually adapt to the changing environment with complex and precise configurations.

To combat the limitations that come from manually managing network operations, the data center must be automated, making it more agile.

Automating the data center frees up human computational time, but also has the following benefits:

  • Delivers insight into all nodes and configurations.
  • Automates routine procedures like patching, updating, and reporting.
  • Produces and programs all data center scheduling and monitoring tasks.
  • Enforces data center processes and controls in agreement with standards and policies.

The EMA Research Report regarding the Future of Data Center Network Automation states that technology organizations believe data center network automation can drive operational efficiency, security risk reduction, and improve compliance and digital agility.

NVIDIA Cumulus Linux

NVIDIA Cumulus Linux offers complete integration with any standard automation tool by standardizing on one unified language: Linux. Cumulus Linux 5.5.0 comes equipped with NVIDIA User Experience (NVUE), which is an API-first structured object model that simplifies operations. NVUE provides a declarative CLI and a single configuration file.

You can use the NVUE object model in two ways:

  • NVUE REST API: Run the GET, PATCH, DELETE, and other REST APIs on the NVUE object model endpoints to configure, monitor, and manage the switch.
  • NVUE CLI: Configure, monitor, and manage the Cumulus Linux network elements. The CLI commands translate to their equivalent REST APIs, which Cumulus Linux then runs on the NVUE object model.

Most popular tools and programming languages have support for working with REST APIs, making it easy to integrate the NVUE REST API into existing automation infrastructures.

As organizations try to keep up with the pace of exponential growth of network traffic, network engineers are faced with the challenge of building fully automated networks at a rapid pace and without error. NVIDIA offers a production-ready automation solution that is validated and ready to go out of the box for Day 0 configurations.

This suite of automation and testing includes the following components:

  • Ready-to-go automation using Ansible roles (essentially a cut-and-paste solution)
  • A fully populated variables file object model
  • Complete Jinja2 templates
  • Ansible playbooks and a full battery of network validation tests enabling continuous integration (CI)
  • The complete and ideal framework for a tangible infrastructure-as-code (IaC) deployment

The open-source suite uses Ansible core modules without the need for any add-ons or plug-ins.

The NVIDIA NVUE Collection (nvidia.nvue) includes Ansible modules to help you interact with NVIDIA devices managed by NVUE. These modules provide granularity in the configuration options and can be used to build Day 0 and Day 1 through Day N configurations.

NVIDIA Air is a cloud-hosted, network simulation platform that enables you to create a digital twin of the IT infrastructure. You can use this digital twin to validate your automation code and much more. The NVIDIA Air marketplace even contains an NVUE API lab to help you get started with the REST API immediately, without having to wait for any physical infrastructure.

The Data center Network Automation Quick Start Guide assists you with the tools available in Cumulus Linux that can help you get started and achieve your automation needs.

NVIDIA Cumulus Linux is built for agility. By standardizing the entire data center on a consistent Linux operating model and API-first object model, network automation is flexible, scalable, and easier than ever. Choose whatever network automation software that you’d like, and it runs seamlessly with NVIDIA Cumulus Linux.

Happy automating!

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