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Cisco Data Center Spine-and-Leaf Architecture: Design Overview White Paper

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Updated:January 9, 2020

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Updated:January 9, 2020
 

 

Data center evolution

The data center is at the foundation of modern software technology, serving a critical role in expanding capabilities for enterprises. The traditional data center uses a three-tier architecture, with servers segmented into pods based on location, as shown in Figure 1.

Title: Traditional three-tier data center design

Figure 1.            

Traditional three-tier data center design

The architecture consists of core routers, aggregation routers (sometimes called distribution routers), and access switches. Between the aggregation routers and access switches, Spanning Tree Protocol is used to build a loop-free topology for the Layer 2 part of network. Spanning Tree Protocol provides several benefits: it is simple, and it is a plug-and-play technology requiring little configuration. VLANs are extended within each pod that servers can move freely within the pod without the need to change IP address and default gateway configurations. However, Spanning Tree Protocol cannot use parallel forwarding paths, and it always blocks redundant paths in a VLAN.

In 2010, Cisco introduced virtual-port-channel (vPC) technology to overcome the limitations of Spanning Tree Protocol. vPC eliminates the spanning-tree blocked ports, provides active-active uplink from the access switches to the aggregation routers, and makes full use of the available bandwidth, as shown in Figure 2. With vPC technology, Spanning Tree Protocol is still used as a fail-safe mechanism.

vPC technology works well in a relatively small data center environment in which most traffic consists of northbound and southbound communication between clients and servers.

Title: Data center design using vPC

Figure 2.            

Data center design using vPC

Since 2003, with the introduction of virtual technology, the computing, networking, and storage resources that were segregated in pods in Layer 2 in the three-tier data center design can be pooled. This revolutionary technology created a need for a larger Layer 2 domain, from the access layer to the core layer, as shown in Figure 3.

Title: Data center design with extended Layer 3 domain

Figure 3.            

Data center design with extended Layer 3 domain

With Layer 2 segments extended across all the pods, the data center administrator can create a central, more flexible resource pool that can be reallocated based on needs. Servers are virtualized into sets of virtual machines that can move freely from server to server without the need to change their operating parameters.

With virtualized servers, applications are increasingly deployed in a distributed fashion, which leads to increased east-west traffic. This traffic needs to be handled efficiently, with low and predictable latency. However, vPC can provide only two active parallel uplinks, and so bandwidth becomes a bottleneck in a three-tier data center architecture. Another challenge in a three-tier architecture is that server-to-server latency varies depending on the traffic path used.

A new data center design called the Clos network–based spine-and-leaf architecture was developed to overcome these limitations. This architecture has been proven to deliver the high-bandwidth, low-latency, nonblocking server-to-server connectivity.

Spine-and-leaf architecture

Figure 4 shows a typical two-tiered spine-and-leaf topology.

Title: Typical spine-and-leaf topology

Figure 4.            

Typical spine-and-leaf topology

In this two-tier Clos architecture, every lower-tier switch (leaf layer) is connected to each of the top-tier switches (spine layer) in a full-mesh topology. The leaf layer consists of access switches that connect to devices such as servers. The spine layer is the backbone of the network and is responsible for interconnecting all leaf switches. Every leaf switch connects to every spine switch in the fabric. The path is randomly chosen so that the traffic load is evenly distributed among the top-tier switches. If one of the top tier switches were to fail, it would only slightly degrade performance throughout the data center.

If oversubscription of a link occurs (that is, if more traffic is generated than can be aggregated on the active link at one time), the process for expanding capacity is straightforward. An additional spine switch can be added, and uplinks can be extended to every leaf switch, resulting in the addition of interlayer bandwidth and reduction of the oversubscription. If device port capacity becomes a concern, a new leaf switch can be added by connecting it to every spine switch and adding the network configuration to the switch. The ease of expansion optimizes the IT department’s process of scaling the network. If no oversubscription occurs between the lower-tier switches and their uplinks, then a nonblocking architecture can be achieved.

With a spine-and-leaf architecture, no matter which leaf switch to which a server is connected, its traffic always has to cross the same number of devices to get to another server (unless the other server is located on the same leaf). This approach keeps latency at a predictable level because a payload only has to hop to a spine switch and another leaf switch to reach its destination.

Overlay network

Modern virtualized data center fabrics must meet certain requirements to accelerate application deployment and support DevOps needs. For example, fabrics need to support scaling of forwarding tables, scaling of network segments, Layer 2 segment extension, virtual device mobility, forwarding path optimization, and virtualized networks for multitenant support on shared physical infrastructure.

Although the concept of a network overlay is not new, interest in network overlays has increased in the past few years because of their potential to address some of these requirements. Interest in overlay networks has also increased with the introduction of new encapsulation frame formats specifically built for the data center. These formats include Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN), Network Virtualization Using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE), Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL), and Location/Identifier Separation Protocol (LISP). Network overlays are virtual networks of interconnected nodes that share an underlying physical network, allowing deployment of applications that require specific network topologies without the need to modify the underlying network (Figure 5).

Title: Network overlay concept

Figure 5.            

Network overlay concept

Benefits of a network virtualization overlay include the following:

      Optimized device functions: Overlay networks allow the separation (and specialization) of device functions based on where a device is being used in the network. An edge or leaf device can optimize its functions and all its relevant protocols based on end-state information and scale, and a core or spine device can optimize its functions and protocols based on link-state updates, optimizing with fast convergence.

      Fabric scalability and flexibility: Overlay technologies allow the network to scale by focusing scaling on the network overlay edge devices. With overlays used at the fabric edge, the spine and core devices are freed from the need to add end-host information to their forwarding tables.

      Overlapping addressing: Most overlay technologies used in the data center allow virtual network IDs to uniquely scope and identify individual private networks. This scoping allows potential overlap in MAC and IP addresses between tenants. The overlay encapsulation also allows the underlying infrastructure address space to be administered separately from the tenant address space.

This document reviews several spine-and-leaf architecture designs that Cisco has offered in the recent past as well as current designs and those the Cisco expects to offer in the near future to address fabric requirements in the modern virtualized data center:

      Cisco® FabricPath spine-and-leaf network

      Cisco VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network

      Cisco VXLAN Multiprotocol Border Gateway Protocol (MP-BGP) Ethernet Virtual Private Network (EVPN) spine-and-leaf network

      Cisco Massively Scalable Data Center (MSDC) Layer 3 spine-and-leaf network

Each section outlines the most important technology components (encapsulation; end-host detection and distribution; broadcast, unknown unicast, and multicast traffic forwarding; underlay and overlay control plane, multitenancy support, etc.), common designs, and design considerations (Layer 3 gateway, etc.) at the time of this writing.

Cisco FabricPath spine-and-leaf network

Cisco introduced FabricPath technology in 2010. FabricPath enables new capabilities and design options that allow network operators to create Ethernet fabrics that increase bandwidth availability, provide design flexibility, and simplify and reduce the costs of network and application deployment and operation. A typical FabricPath network uses a spine-and-leaf architecture.

FabricPath technology uses many of the best characteristics of traditional Layer 2 and Layer 3 technologies. It retains the easy-configuration, plug-and-play deployment model of a Layer 2 environment. It also introduces a control-plane protocol called FabricPath Intermediate System to Intermediate System (IS-IS). This Shortest-Path First (SPF) routing protocol is used to determine reachability and select the best path or paths to any given destination FabricPath switch in the FabricPath network. The result is increased stability and scalability, fast convergence, and the capability to use multiple parallel paths typical in a Layer 3 routed environment.

Encapsulation format and standards compliance

The FabricPath spine-and-leaf network is proprietary to Cisco but is based on the TRILL standard. It uses FabricPath MAC-in-MAC frame encapsulation.

Underlay network

The FabricPath spine-and-leaf network uses Layer 2 FabricPath MAC-in-MAC frame encapsulation, and it uses FabricPath IS-IS for the control-plane in the underlay network. Each FabricPath switch is identified by a FabricPath switch ID. The FabricPath IS-IS control plane builds reachability information about how to reach other FabricPath switches.

Overlay network

FabricPath has no overlay control plane for the overlay network. End-host information in the overlay network is learned through the flood-and-learn mechanism with conversational learning.

Broadcast and unknown unicast traffic

For a FabricPath network, the FabricPath IS-IS control plane by default creates two multidestination trees that carry broadcast traffic, unknown unicast traffic, and multicast traffic through the FabricPath network. Broadcast and unknown unicast traffic in FabricPath is flooded to all FabricPath edge ports in the VLAN or broadcast domain.

Host detection and reachability

To learn end-host reachability information, FabricPath switches rely on initial data-plane traffic flooding. As the number of hosts in a broadcast domain increases, the negative effects of flooding packets are more pronounced. The impact of broadcast and unknown unicast traffic flooding needs to be carefully considered in the FabricPath network design. Features exist, such as the FabricPath Multitopology feature, to help limit traffic flooding in a subsection of the FabricPath network.

Multicast traffic

For a FabricPath network, the FabricPath IS-IS control plane by default creates two multidestination trees that carry broadcast traffic, unknown unicast traffic, and multicast traffic through the FabricPath network. IP multicast traffic is by default constrained to only those FabricPath edge ports that have either an interested multicast receiver or a multicast router attached and use Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) snooping. For Layer 2 multicast traffic, traffic entering the FabricPath switch is hashed to a multidestination tree to be forwarded. For Layer 3 IP multicast traffic, traffic needs to be forwarded by Layer 3 multicast using Protocol-Independent Multicast (PIM). After traffic is routed to the destination VLAN, then it is forwarded using the multidestination tree in the destination VLAN.

Layer 3 routing function

FabricPath is a Layer 2 network fabric technology, which allows you to easily scale the network capacity simply by adding more spine nodes and leaf nodes at Layer 2. But most networks are not pure Layer 2 networks. Servers may talk with other servers in different subnets or talk with clients in remote branch offices over the WAN or Internet. That traffic needs to be routed by a Layer 3 function enabled on FabricPath switches (default gateways and border switches).

The placement of a Layer 3 function in a FabricPath network needs to be carefully designed. Two major design options are available: internal and external routing at a border spine, and internal and external routing at a border leaf. Both designs provide centralized routing: that is, the Layer 3 routing functions are centralized on specific switches.

Internal and external routing at the border spine

As shown in the design for internal and external routing at the border spine in Figure 6, the spine switch functions as the Layer 2 and Layer 3 boundary and server subnet gateway. Spine switches are performing intra-VLAN FabricPath frame switching. The switch virtual interfaces (SVIs) on the spine switch are performing inter-VLAN routing for east-west internal traffic and exchange routing adjacency information with Layer 3 routed uplinks to route north-south external traffic. Routed traffic needs to traverse only one hop to reach to default gateway at the spine switches to be routed.

FabricPath technology currently supports up to four FabricPath anycast gateways. If the spine-and-leaf network has more than four spine switches, the Layer 2 and Layer 3 boundary needs to be distributed across the spine switches. Also, with SVIs enabled on the spine switch, the spine switch disables conversational learning and learns the MAC address in the corresponding subnet. You need to consider MAC address scale to avoid exceeding the scalability limits of your hardware.

Title: Internal and external routing at the border spine

Figure 6.            

Internal and external routing at the border spine

Internal and external routing at the border leaf

As shown in the design for internal and external routing at the border leaf in Figure 7, the spine switch functions as the Layer 2 FabricPath switch and performs intra-VLAN FabricPath frame switching only. It doesn’t learn host MAC addresses. The Layer 2 and Layer 3 function is enabled on some FabricPath leaf switches called border leaf switches. The SVIs on the border leaf switches perform inter-VLAN routing for east-west internal traffic and exchange routing adjacency with Layer 3 routed uplinks to route north-south external traffic.

But routed traffic needs to traverse two hops: leaf to spine and then to the default gateway on the border leaf to be routed. Up to four FabricPath anycast gateways can be enabled in the design with routing at the border leaf. You need to consider MAC address scale to avoid exceeding the scalability limit on the border leaf switch.

Title: Internal and external routing at the border leaf

Figure 7.            

Internal and external routing at the border leaf

Multitenancy

The FabricPath spine-and-leaf network supports Layer 2 multitenancy with the VXLAN network (VN)-segment feature (Figure 8). The VN-segment feature provides a new way to tag packets on the wire, replacing the traditional IEEE 802.1Q VLAN tag. This feature uses a 24-bit increased name space. Customer edge links (access and trunk) carry traditional VLAN tagged and untagged frames. These are the VN-segment edge ports.

FabricPath links (switch-port mode: fabricpath) carry VN-segment tagged frames for VLANs that have VXLAN network identifiers (VNIs) defined. These are the VN-segment core ports. To support multitenancy, same VLANs can be reused on different FabricPath leaf switches, and IEEE 802.1Q tagged frames are mapped to specific VN-segments. VN-segments are used to provide isolation at Layer 2 for each tenant. The VLAN has local significance on the FabricPath leaf switch, and VN-segments have global significance across the FabricPath network. On each FabricPath leaf switch, the network keeps the 4096 VLAN spaces, but across the whole FabricPath network, it can support up to 16 million VN-segments, at least in theory.

Title: Layer 2 multitenancy example with FabricPath VN-Segment feature

Figure 8.            

Layer 2 multitenancy example with FabricPath VN-Segment feature

The FabricPath spine-and-leaf network also supports Layer 3 multitenancy using Virtual Routing and Forwarding lite (VRF-lite), as shown in Figure 9. The FabricPath network is a Layer 2 network, and Layer 3 SVIs are laid on top of the Layer 2 FabricPath switch. With VRF-lite, the number of VLANs supported across the FabricPath network is 4096.

Title: Layer 3 multitenancy example with VRF-lite

Figure 9.            

Layer 3 multitenancy example with VRF-lite

Cisco FabricPath Spine-and-Leaf network summary

The FabricPath spine-and-leaf network is proprietary to Cisco, but it is mature technology and has been widely deployed. It provides a simple, flexible, and stable network, with good scalability and fast convergence characteristics, and it can use multiple parallel paths at Layer 2. But the FabricPath network is flood-and-learn-based Layer 2 technology. Its control-plane protocol, FabricPath IS-IS, is designed to determine FabricPath switch ID reachability information. To learn end-host reachability information, FabricPath switches rely on initial data-plane traffic flooding. As the number of hosts in a broadcast domain increases, the negative effects of flooding packets become more pronounced. A Layer 3 function is laid on top of the Layer 2 network. Common Layer 3 designs use centralized routing: that is, the Layer 3 routing function is centralized on specific switches (spine switches or border leaf switches). The FabricPath network supports up to four anycast gateways for internal VLAN routing.

Table 1 summarizes the characteristics of a FabricPath spine-and-leaf network.

Table 1.        Cisco FabricPath network characteristics

Item

Description

Transport medium

Layer 1

Encapsulation

FabricPath (MAC-in-MAC frame encapsulation)

Unique node identifier

FabricPath switch ID

End-host detection

Flood and learn

Silent host discovery

Yes

End-host reachability and distribution

Flood and learn plus conversational learning

Broadcast and unknown unicast traffic

Flood by FabricPath IS-IS multidestination tree

Underlay control plane

FabricPath IS-IS

Overlay control plane

Layer 3 routing function

  Internal and external routing at border spine
  Internal and external routing at border leaf
  Up to 4 FabricPath anycast gateways supported

Multicast traffic

Supports:

  Layer 2 multicast traffic (forwarded by multidestination tree)
  Layer 3 IP multicast traffic (forwarded by Layer 3 multicast using PIM)

Multitenancy

  Layer 2 multitenancy with VN-segment
  Layer 3 multitenancy with VRF-lite

Standard reference

TRILL based (Cisco proprietary)

Supported hardware

  Cisco Nexus ® 7000 Series Switches including the Cisco Nexus 7700 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 5500 and 5600 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 6000 Series Switches

For feature support and for more information about Cisco FabricPath technology, please refer to the configuration guides, release notes, and reference documents listed at the end of this document.

Cisco VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network

VXLAN, one of many available network virtualization overlay technologies, offers several advantages. It is an industry-standard protocol and uses underlay IP networks. It extends Layer 2 segments over a Layer 3 infrastructure to build Layer 2 overlay logical networks. It encapsulates Ethernet frames into IP User Data Protocol (UDP) headers and transports the encapsulated packets through the underlay network to the remote VXLAN tunnel endpoints (VTEPs) using the normal IP routing and forwarding mechanism. Cisco began supporting VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf technology in about 2014 on multiple Cisco Nexus switches such as the Cisco Nexus 5600 platform and Cisco Nexus 7000 and 9000 Series. This section describes Cisco VXLAN flood-and-learn characteristic on these Cisco hardware switches.

Encapsulation format and standards compliance

Cisco VXLAN flood-and-learn technology complies with the IETF VXLAN standards (RFC 7348), which defined a multicast-based flood-and-learn VXLAN without a control plane. The original Layer 2 frame is encapsulated with a VXLAN header and then placed in a UDP-IP packet and transported across an IP network.

Underlay network

The VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network uses Layer 3 IP for the underlay network. Underlay IP multicast is used to reduce the flooding scope of the set of hosts that are participating in the VXLAN segment. Each VXLAN segment has a VXLAN network identifier (VNID), and the VNID is mapped to an IP multicast group in the transport IP network. Each VTEP device is independently configured with this multicast group and participates in PIM routing. The multicast distribution tree for this group is built through the transport network based on the locations of participating VTEPs. The requirement to enable multicast capabilities in the underlay network presents a challenge to some organizations because they do not want to enable multicast in their data centers or WANs.

The Cisco Nexus 9000 Series introduced an ingress replication feature, so the underlay network is multicast free. The VXLAN VTEP uses a list of IP addresses of other VTEPs in the network to send broadcast and unknown unicast traffic. These IP addresses are exchanged between VTEPs through the static ingress replication configuration (Figure 10).

Title: VXLAN IP Underlay Network

Figure 10.         

VXLAN IP Underlay Network

Overlay network

The VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network doesn’t have a control plane for the overlay network. The Layer 2 overlay network is created on top of the Layer 3 IP underlay network by using the VTEP tunneling mechanism to transport Layer 2 packets. The overlay network uses flood-and-learn semantics (Figure 11).

Title: VXLAN Overlay network

Figure 11.         

VXLAN Overlay network

Broadcast and unknown unicast traffic

Underlay IP PIM or the ingress replication feature is used to send broadcast and unknown unicast traffic. Note that the ingress replication feature is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.

Host detection and reachability

The VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network relies on initial data-plane traffic flooding to enable VTEPs to discover each other and to learn remote host MAC addresses and MAC-to-VTEP mappings for each VXLAN segment. After MAC-to-VTEP mapping is complete, the VTEPs forward VXLAN traffic in a unicast stream.

Multicast traffic

In a VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network, overlay tenant Layer 2 multicast traffic is supported using underlay IP PIM or the ingress replication feature. Note that ingress replication is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.

Layer 3 IP multicast traffic is forwarded by Layer 3 PIM-based multicast routing.

Multicast group scaling needs to be designed carefully. Ideally, you should map one VXLAN segment to one IP multicast group to provide optimal multicast forwarding. You can also have multiple VXLAN segments share a single IP multicast group in the core network; however, the overloading of multicast groups leads to suboptimal multicast forwarding.

Layer 3 routing function

As in a traditional VLAN environment, routing between VXLAN segments or from a VXLAN segment to a VLAN segment is required in many situations. In a typical VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network design, the leaf Top-of-Rack (ToR) switches are enabled as VTEP devices to extend the Layer 2 segments between racks. These VTEPs are Layer 2 VXLAN gateways for VXLAN-to-VLAN or VLAN-to-VXLAN bridging. When traffic needs to be routed between VXLAN segments or from a VXLAN segment to a VLAN segment and vice visa, the Layer 3 VXLAN gateway function needs to be enabled on some VTEPs. The common designs used are internal and external routing on the spine layer, and internal and external routing on the leaf layer. Both designs provide centralized routing: that is, the Layer 3 internal and external routing functions are centralized on specific switches.

Internal and external routing on the spine layer

As shown in the design for internal and external routing on the spine layer in Figure 12, the leaf ToR VTEP switch is a Layer 2 VXLAN gateway to transport the Layer 2 segment over the underlay Layer 3 IP network. The spine switch has two functions. It is part of the underlay Layer 3 IP network and transports the VXLAN encapsulated packets. It also performs internal inter-VXLAN routing and external routing. Internal and external routed traffic needs to travel one underlay hop from the leaf VTEP to the spine switch to be routed.

Note that the maximum number of inter-VXLAN active-active gateways is two with a Hot-Standby Router Protocol (HSRP) and vPC configuration. Also, the spine Layer 3 VXLAN gateway learns the host MAC address, so you need to consider the MAC address scale to avoid exceeding the scalability limits of your hardware.

Title: Internal and external routing on the spine layer

Figure 12.         

Internal and external routing on the spine layer

Internal and external routing on the border leaf

As shown in the design for internal and external routing on the border leaf in Figure 13, the leaf ToR VTEP switch is a Layer 2 VXLAN gateway to transport the Layer 2 segment over the underlay Layer 3 IP network. The spine switch is just part of the underlay Layer 3 IP network to transport the VXLAN encapsulated packets. It doesn’t learn the overlay host MAC address. The border leaf router is enabled with the Layer 3 VXLAN gateway and performs internal inter-VXLAN routing and external routing. Internal and external routed traffic needs to travel two underlay hops from the leaf VTEP to the spine switch and then to the border leaf switch to reach the external network.

The maximum number of inter-VXLAN active-active gateways is two with an HSRP and vPC configuration. Also, the border leaf Layer 3 VXLAN gateway learns the host MAC address, so you need to consider the MAC address scale to avoid exceeding the scalability limits of your hardware.

Title: Internal and external routing on the border leaf

Figure 13.         

Internal and external routing on the border leaf

Multitenancy

The VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network supports Layer 2 multitenancy (Figure 14). VXLAN uses a 24-bit segment ID, or VNID, which enables up to 16 million VXLAN segments to coexist in the same administrative domain. To support multitenancy, the same VLAN can be reused on different VTEP switches, and IEEE 802.1Q tagged frames received on VTEPs are mapped to specific VNIs. VNIs are used to provide isolation at Layer 2 for each tenant. VLAN has local significance on the leaf VTEP switch, and the VNI has global significance across the VXLAN network.

Title: Layer 2 multitenancy example using the VNI

Figure 14.         

Layer 2 multitenancy example using the VNI

The VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network also supports Layer 3 multitenancy using VRF-lite (Figure 15). The VXLAN flood-and-learn network is a Layer 2 overlay network, and Layer 3 SVIs are laid on top of the Layer 2 overlay network. With VRF-lite, the number of VLANs supported across the VXLAN flood-and-learn network is 4096.

Title: Layer 3 multitenancy example using VRF-lite

Figure 15.         

Layer 3 multitenancy example using VRF-lite

Cisco VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network summary

The VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network complies with the IETF VXLAN standards (RFC 7348). It transports Layer 2 frames over a Layer 3 IP underlay network. However, it is still a flood-and-learn-based Layer 2 technology. As the number of hosts in a broadcast domain increases, it suffers the same flooding challenges as a FabricPath spine-and-leaf network. The Layer 3 function is laid on top of the Layer 2 network. Common Layer 3 designs provide centralized routing: that is, the Layer 3 routing function is centralized on specific switches (spine switches or border leaf switches). The VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network supports up to two active-active gateways with vPC for internal VXLAN routing.

Table 2 summarizes the characteristics of a VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network.

Table 2.        Cisco VXLAN flood-and-learn network characteristics

Item

Description

Transport medium requirement

Layer 3

Encapsulation

VXLAN (MAC-in-IP packet encapsulation)

Unique node identifier

VTEP

End-host detection

Flood and learn

Silent host discovery

Yes

End-host reachability and distribution

Flood and learn

Broadcast and unknown unicast traffic

Forwarded by underlay PIM or

ingress replication

(Note: Ingress replication is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches)

Underlay control plane

Any unicast routing protocol

(static, Open Shortest Path First [OSPF], IS-IS, External BGP [eBGP], etc.)

Overlay control plane

Layer 3 VXLAN gateway

  Internal and external routing at spine VTEP
  Internal and external routing at border leaf VTEP
  Up to 2 active-active gateways with vPC

Layer 2 VXLAN gateway

Leaf ToR switch

Multicast traffic

  Supports:
  Layer 2 IP multicast traffic (forwarded by underlay PIM)
  Layer 3 IP multicast traffic (forwarded by Layer 3 PIM–based multicast routing

Multitenancy

  Layer 2 multitenancy with VNI
  Layer 3 multitenancy with VRF-lite

Standard reference

RFC 7348

Supported hardware

  Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches including the Cisco Nexus 7700 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches

For feature support and more information about Cisco VXLAN flood-and-learn technology, please refer to the configuration guides, release notes, and reference documents listed at the end of this document.

Cisco VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf network

In the VXLAN flood-and-learn mode defined in RFC 7348, end-host information learning and VTEP discovery are both data-plane based, with no control protocol to distribute end-host reachability information among the VTEPs. To overcome the limitations of flood-and-learn VXLAN, Cisco VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf architecture uses Multiprotocol Border Gateway Protocol Ethernet Virtual Private Network, or MP-BGP EVPN, as the control plane for VXLAN. This technology provides control-plane and data-plane separation and a unified control plane for both Layer 2 and Layer 3 forwarding in a VXLAN overlay network. This section describes VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN on Cisco Nexus hardware switches such as the Cisco Nexus 5600 platform switches and Cisco Nexus 7000 and 9000 Series Switches.

Encapsulation format and standards compliance

The VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf architecture uses VXLAN encapsulation. The original Layer 2 frame is encapsulated in a VXLAN header and then placed in a UDP-IP packet and transported across the IP network. This design complies with the IETF RFC 7348 and draft-ietf-bess-evpn-overlay standards.

Underlay Network

The VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf architecture uses Layer 3 IP for the underlay network.

Overlay Network

The VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf architecture uses MP-BGP EVPN for the control plane for the VXLAN overlay network.

Broadcast and unknown unicast traffic

Underlay IP PIM or the ingress replication feature is used to send broadcast and unknown unicast traffic.

With IP multicast enabled in the underlay network, each VXLAN segment, or VNID, is mapped to an IP multicast group in the transport IP network. Each VTEP device is independently configured with this multicast group and participates in PIM routing. The multicast distribution tree for this group is built through the transport network based on the locations of participating VTEPs.

With the ingress replication feature, the underlay network is multicast free. The VXLAN VTEP uses a list of IP addresses of other VTEPS in the network to send broadcast and unknown unicast traffic. These IP addresses are exchanged between VTEPs through the BGP EVPN control plane or static configuration. Note that the ingress-replication feature is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.

Host detection and reachability

The MP-BGP EVPN control plane provides integrated routing and bridging by distributing both Layer 2 and Layer 3 reachability information for the end host residing in the VXLAN overlay network. Each VTEP performs local learning to obtain MAC address (though traditional MAC address learning) and IP address information (based on Address Resolution Protocol [ARP] snooping) from its locally attached hosts. The VTEP then distributes this information through the MP-BGP EVPN control plane. Hosts attached to remote VTEPs are learned remotely through the MP-BGP control plane. This approach reduces network flooding for end-host learning and provides better control over end-host reachability information distribution.

Multicast traffic

VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN supports overlay tenant Layer 2 multicast traffic using underlay IP multicast or the ingress replication feature. Note that ingress replication is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.

Overlay tenant Layer 3 multicast traffic is supported by two ways: (1) Layer 3 PIM-based multicast routing on an external router for Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches including the Cisco Nexus 7700 platform switches and Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches. (2) Tenant Routed Multicast (TRM) for Cisco Nexus 9000 Cloud Scale Series Switches. TRM is based on a standards-based next-generation control plane (ngMVPN) described in IETF RFC 6513 and 6514. It delivers tenant Layer 3 multicast traffic in an efficient and resilient way. Please note that TRM is only supported on newer generation of Nexus 9000 switches such as Cloud Scale ASIC–based switches. For feature support and more information about TRM, please refer to the configuration guides, release notes, and reference documents listed at the end of this document.

You need to design multicast group scaling carefully, as described earlier in the section discussing Cisco VXLAN flood-and-learn multicast traffic.

Layer 3 routing function

The VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf network needs to provide Layer 3 internal VXLAN routing as well as maintain connectivity with the networks that are external to the VXLAN fabric, including the campus network, WAN, and Internet. VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN uses distributed anycast gateways for internal routed traffic. The external routing function is centralized on specific switches.

Distributed anycast gateway for internal routing

In MP-BGP EVPN, any VTEP in a VNI can be the distributed anycast gateway for end hosts in its IP subnet by supporting the same virtual gateway IP address and the virtual gateway MAC address (shown in Figure 16). With the anycast gateway function in EVPN, end hosts in a VNI always can use their local VTEPs for this VNI as their default gateway to send traffic out of their IP subnet. This capability enables optimal forwarding for northbound traffic from end hosts in the VXLAN overlay network. A distributed anycast gateway also offers the benefit of transparent host mobility in the VXLAN overlay network. Because the gateway IP address and virtual MAC address are identically provisioned on all VTEPs in a VNI, when an end host moves from one VTEP to another VTEP, it doesn’t need to send another ARP request to relearn the gateway MAC address.

Title: Distributed anycast gateway for internal routing

Figure 16.         

Distributed anycast gateway for internal routing

External routing at the border leaf

Figure 17 shows a typical design using a pair of border leaf switches connected to outside routing devices. The border leaf switch runs MP-BGP EVPN on the inside with the other VTEPs in the VXLAN fabric and exchanges EVPN routes with them. At the same time, it runs the normal IPv4 or IPv6 unicast routing in the tenant VRF instances with the external routing device on the outside. The routing protocol can be regular eBGP or any Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP) of choice. The border leaf switch learns external routes and advertises them to the EVPN domain as EVPN routes so that other VTEP leaf nodes can also learn about the external routes for sending outbound traffic.

The border leaf switch can also be configured to send EVPN routes learned in the Layer 2 VPN EVPN address family to the IPv4 or IPv6 unicast address family and advertise them to the external routing device. With this design, tenant traffic needs to take two underlay hops (VTEP to spine to border leaf) to reach the external network. However, the spine switch only needs to run the BGP-EVPN control plane and IP routing; it doesn’t need to support the VXLAN VTEP function.

Title: Design for external routing at the border leaf

Figure 17.         

Design for external routing at the border leaf

External routing at the border spine

Figure 18 shows a typical design with a pair of spine switches connected to the outside routing devices. With this design, the spine switch needs to support VXLAN routing. The spine switch runs MP-BGP EVPN on the inside with the other VTEPs in the VXLAN fabric and exchanges EVPN routes with them. At the same time, it runs the normal IPv4 or IPv6 unicast routing in the tenant VRF instances with the external routing device on the outside. The routing protocol can be regular eBGP or any IGP of choice. The spine switch learns external routes and advertises them to the EVPN domain as EVPN routes so that other VTEP leaf nodes can also learn about the external routes for sending outbound traffic.

The spine switch can also be configured to send EVPN routes learned in the Layer 2 VPN EVPN address family to the IPv4 or IPv6 unicast address family and advertise them to the external routing device. With this design, tenant traffic needs to take only one underlay hop (VTEP to spine) to reach the external network. However, the spine switch needs to run the BGP-EVPN control plane and IP routing and the VXLAN VTEP function.

Title: External routing with border spine design

Figure 18.         

External routing with border spine design

Multitenancy

The VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf architecture uses MP-BGP EVPN for the control plane. As an extension to MP-BGP, MP-BGP EVPN inherits the support for multitenancy with VPN using the VRF construct. In MP-BGP EVPN, multiple tenants can co-exist and share a common IP transport network while having their own separate VPNs in the VXLAN overlay network (Figure 19).

In the VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf network, VNIs define the Layer 2 domains and enforce Layer 2 segmentation by not allowing Layer 2 traffic to traverse VNI boundaries. Similarly, Layer 3 segmentation among VXLAN tenants is achieved by applying Layer 3 VRF technology and enforcing routing isolation among tenants by using a separate Layer 3 VNI mapped to each VRF instance. Each tenant has its own VRF routing instance. IP subnets of the VNIs for a given tenant are in the same Layer 3 VRF instance that separates the Layer 3 routing domain from the other tenants.

Title: Cisco VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf network multitenancy

Figure 19.         

Cisco VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf network multitenancy

Cisco VXLAN MP BGP-EVPN spine-and-leaf network summary

The VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf architecture uses MP-BGP EVPN for the control plane for VXLAN. This design complies with IETF VXLAN standards RFC 7348 and draft-ietf-bess-evpn-overlay. It provides control-plane and data-plane separation and a unified control plane for both Layer 2 and Layer 3 forwarding in a VXLAN overlay network. The control-plane learns end-host Layer 2 and Layer 3 reachability information (MAC and IP addresses) and distributes this information through the EVPN address family, thus providing integrated bridging and routing in VXLAN overlay networks. It reduces network flooding through control-plane-based host MAC and IP address route distribution and ARP suppression on the local VTEPs. The Layer 3 internal routed traffic is routed directly by a distributed anycast gateway on each ToR switch in a scale-out fashion.

Table 3 summarizes the characteristics of the VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf network.

Table 3.        Cisco VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN network characteristics

Item

Description

Transport medium requirement

Layer 3

Encapsulation

VXLAN (MAC-in-IP packet encapsulation)

Unique node identifier

VTEP

End-host detection

Localized flood and learn with ARP suppression

Silent host discovery

Yes

End-host reachability and distribution

MP-BGP EVPN

Broadcast and unknown unicast traffic

Forwarded by underlay multicast (PIM) or ingress replication

(Note: Ingress replication is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.)

Underlay control plane

Any unicast routing protocol (static, OSPF, IS-IS, eBGP, etc.)

Overlay control plane

MP-BGP EVPN

Layer 3 VXLAN gateway

  Distributed anycast gateway on leaf ToR switch for inter-VXLAN routing
  Border leaf switch for external routing

(Note: The spine switch only needs to run BGP-EVPN control plane and IP routing.)

  Border spine switch for external routing

(Note: The spine switch needs to support VXLAN routing VTEP on hardware.)

Layer 2 VXLAN gateway

Leaf ToR switch

Multicast traffic

Supports:

  Layer 2 multicast traffic (forwarded by underlay PIM or ingress replication

Note: Ingress replication is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.)

  Layer 3 IP multicast traffic (forwarded by Layer 3 PIM-based multicast routing on external router or TRM [Tenant Routed multicast, only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Cloud Scale Series Switches])

Multitenancy

Supports both Layer 2 multitenancy and Layer 3 multitenancy

Standard reference

RFC 7348 and RFC8365 (previously draft-ietf-bess-evpn-overlay)

Supported hardware

  Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches including the Cisco Nexus 7700 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches

For feature support and more information about VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN, please refer to the configuration guides, release notes, and reference documents listed at the end of this document.

Cisco MSDC Layer 3 spine-and-leaf network

Massively scalable data centers (MSDCs) are large data centers, with thousands of physical servers (sometimes hundreds of thousands), that have been designed to scale in size and computing capacity with little impact on the existing infrastructure. Environments of this scale have a unique set of network requirements, with an emphasis on application performance, network simplicity and stability, visibility, easy troubleshooting and easy life cycle management, etc. Examples of MSDCs are large cloud service providers that host thousands of tenants, and web portal and e-commerce providers that host large distributed applications.

Cisco’s MSDC topology design uses a Layer 3 spine-and-leaf architecture. The leaf Layer is responsible for advertising server subnets in the network fabric. Spine devices are responsible for learning infrastructure routes and end-host subnet routes. In most cases, the spine switch is not used to directly connect to the outside world or to other MSDC networks, but it will forward such traffic to specialized leaf switches acting as border leaf switches. Border leaf switches can inject default routes to attract traffic intended for external destinations. Depending on the number of servers that need to be supported, there are different flavors of MSDC designs: two-tiered spine-leaf topology, three-tiered spine-leaf topology, hyperscale fabric plane Clos design. For more details regarding MSDC designs with Cisco Nexus 9000 and 3000 switches, please refer “Cisco’s Massively Scalable Data Center Network Fabric White Paper”.

Regarding routing design, the Cisco MSDC control plane uses dynamic Layer 3 protocols such as eBGP to build the routing table that most efficiently routes a packet from a source to a spine node. Most customers use eBGP because of its scalability and stability.

Figure 20 shows an example of a Layer 3 MSDC spine-and-leaf network with an eBGP control plane (AS = autonomous system).

Title: Example of MSDC Layer 3 spine-and-leaf network with BGP control plane

Figure 20.         

Example of MSDC Layer 3 spine-and-leaf network with BGP control plane

The Layer 3 spine-and-leaf design intentionally does not support Layer 2 VLANs across ToR switches because it is a Layer 3 fabric. Each host is associated with a host subnet and talks with other hosts through Layer 3 routing. Host mobility and multitenancy is not supported.

Because the fabric network is so large, MSDC customers typically use software-based approaches to introduce more automation and more modularity into the network. The automation tools can handle different fabric topologies and form factors, creating a modular solution that can adapt to different-sized data centers. MSDCs are highly automated to deploy configurations on the devices and discover any new devices’ roles in the fabric, to monitor and troubleshoot the fabric, etc. Many MSDC customers write scripts to make network changes, using Python, Puppet and Chef, and other DevOps tools and Cisco technologies such as Power-On Auto Provisioning (POAP).

Table 4 summarizes the characteristics of a Layer 3 MSDC spine-and-leaf network.

Table 4.        Cisco Layer 3 MSDC network characteristics

Item

Description

Transport medium requirement

Layer 3

End-host detection

None (localized IP subnet)

End-host reachability and distribution

Unicast routing protocol (eBGP

Broadcast and unknown unicast traffic

Stops at leaf ToR switch

Underlay control plane

Unicast routing protocol (eBGP)

Layer 3 function

  Leaf ToR switch for internal routing
  Border leaf switch for external routing

Multicast traffic

Supports:

  Layer 3 IP multicast traffic

Multitenancy

No

Supported hardware

  Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches including the Cisco Nexus 7700 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 3000 Series Switches
  Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches

Data Center fabric management and automation

There is no single way to build a data center. Similarly, there is no single way to manage the data center fabric. Many different tools are available from Cisco, third parties, and the open-source community that can be used to monitor, manage, automate, and troubleshoot the data center fabric.

Cisco Data Center Network Manager

Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) is a management system for the Cisco® Unified Fabric. It enables you to provision, monitor, and troubleshoot the data center network infrastructure. Cisco DCNM can be installed in four modes:

      Classic LAN mode: manages Cisco Nexus Data Center infrastructure deployed in legacy designs, such as vPC design, FabricPath design, etc. It provides real-time health summaries, alarms, visibility information, etc.

      Media controller mode: manages Cisco IP Fabric network for Media solution and helps transition from an SDI router to an IP-based infrastructure. It provides workflow automation, flow policy management, and third-party studio equipment integration, etc. (This mode is not relevant to this white paper.)

      Storage Area Network (SAN) controller mode: manages Cisco MDS Series switches for storage network deployment with graphical control for all SAN administration functions. It provides rich-insights telemetry information and other advanced analytics information, etc. (This mode is not relevant to this white paper.)

      LAN Fabric mode: provides Fabric Builder for automated VXLAN EVPN fabric underlay deployment, overlay deployment, end-to-end flow trace, alarm and troubleshooting, configuration compliance and device lifecycle management, etc.

From Cisco DCNM Release 11.2, Cisco Network Insights applications are supported; these applications consist of monitoring utilities that can be added to the Data Center Network Manager (DCNM). Two Cisco Network Insights applications are supported:

      Cisco Network Insights - Advisor (NIA): monitors the data center network and pinpoints issues that can be addressed to maintain availability and reduce surprise outages. NIA constantly scans the customer’s network and provides proactive advice with a focus on maintaining availability and alerting customers about potential issues that can impact uptime.

      Cisco Network Insights – Resources (NIR): provides a way to gather information through data collection to get an overview of available resources and their active processes and configurations across the entire Data Center Network Manager (DCNM).

For more information about Cisco DCNM, see https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/cloud-systems-management/prime-data-center-network-manager/index.html.

For more information on Cisco Network Insights, see https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/data-center-analytics/network-insights-data-center/products-installation-and-configuration-guides-list.html.

Conclusion

This document presented several spine-and-leaf architecture designs from Cisco, including the most important technology components and design considerations for each architecture at the time of the writing of this document.

The Cisco FabricPath spine-and-leaf network is proprietary to Cisco. It is simple, flexible, and stable; it has good scalability and fast convergence characteristics; and it supports multiple parallel paths at Layer 2. But a FabricPath network is a flood-and-learn-based Layer 2 technology. Its control plane protocol is FabricPath IS-IS, which is designed to determine FabricPath switch ID reachability information. To learn end-host reachability information, FabricPath switches rely on initial data-plane traffic flooding. As the number of hosts in a broadcast domain increases, the negative effects of flooding packets become more pronounced. The Layer 3 routing function is laid on top of the Layer 2 network. Common Layer 3 designs use centralized routing: that is, the Layer 3 routing function is centralized on specific switches (spine switches or border leaf switches). The FabricPath network supports up to four anycast gateways for internal VLAN routing.

The Cisco VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network complies with the IETF VXLAN standards (RFC 7348). It transports Layer 2 frames over the Layer 3 IP underlay network. But it is still a flood-and-learn-based Layer 2 technology. As the number of hosts in a broadcast domain increases, it suffers the same flooding challenges as the FabricPath spine-and-leaf network. The Layer 3 routing function is laid on top of the Layer 2 network. Common Layer 3 designs use centralized routing: that is, the Layer 3 routing function is centralized on specific switches (spine switches or border leaf switches). The VXLAN flood-and-learn spine-and-leaf network supports up to two active-active gateways with vPC for internal VXLAN routing.

The Cisco VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf architecture uses MP-BGP EVPN for the control plane for VXLAN. It complies with IETF VXLAN standards RFC 7348 and RFC8365 (previously draft-ietf-bess-evpn-overlay). It provides control-plane and data-plane separation and a unified control plane for both Layer 2 and Layer 3 forwarding in a VXLAN overlay network. The Layer 3 internal routed traffic is routed directly by the distributed anycast gateway on each ToR switch in a scale-out fashion. The VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf architecture offers the following main benefits:

      The MP-BGP EVPN protocol is based on industry standards, allowing multivendor interoperability.

      It enables control-plane learning of end-host Layer 2 and Layer 3 reachability information, enabling organizations to build more robust and scalable VXLAN overlay networks.

      It uses the decade-old MP-BGP VPN technology to support scalable multitenant VXLAN overlay networks.

      The EVPN address family carries both Layer 2 and Layer 3 reachability information, thus providing integrated bridging and routing in VXLAN overlay networks.

      It reduces network flooding through protocol-based host MAC address IP address route distribution and ARP suppression on the local VTEPs.

      It provides optimal forwarding for east-west and north-south traffic and supports workload mobility with the distributed anycast function on each ToR switch.

      It provides VTEP peer discovery and authentication, mitigating the risk from rogue VTEPs in the VXLAN overlay network.

      It provides mechanisms for building active-active multihoming at Layer 2.

      Its underlay and overlay management tools provide many network management capabilities, simplifying workload visibility, optimizing troubleshooting, automating fabric component provisioning, automating overlay tenant network provisioning, etc.

Cisco VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN spine-and-leaf architecture is one of the latest innovations from Cisco. It is designed to simplify, optimize, and automate the modern multitenancy data center fabric environment.

Cisco spine-and-leaf layer 2 and layer 3 fabric comparison

Table 5 compares the four Cisco spine-and-leaf architectures discussed in this document: FabricPath, VXLAN flood-and-learn, VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN, and MSDC Layer 3 networks. Please review this table and each section of this document carefully and read the reference documents to obtain additional information to help you choose the technology that best fits your data center environment.

Table 5.        Cisco spine-and-leaf layer 2 and layer 3 fabric comparison

Note:      Updated as of July 2019

Cisco Spine-and-Leaf Layer 2 and Layer 3 Fabric

Cisco FabricPath

Cisco VXLAN Flood and Learn

Cisco VXLAN MP-BGP EVPN

Cisco MSDC Layer 3

Transport medium requirement

Layer 1

Layer 3

Layer 3

Layer 3

Encapsulation

FabricPath (MAC-in-MAC frame encapsulation)

VXLAN (MAC-in-IP packet encapsulation)

VXLAN (MAC-in-IP packet encapsulation)

Unique node identifier

FabricPath switch ID

VTEP

VTEP

Layer 3 IP address or loopback address

End-host detection

Flood and learn

Flood and learn

Localized flood and learn with ARP suppression

None (localized IP subnet)

Silent host discovery

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

End-host reachability and distribution

Flood and learn plus conversational learning

Flood and learn

MP-BGP EVPN

Unicast routing protocol (eBGP)

Broadcast and unknown unicast traffic

Flood by FabricPath IS-IS multidestination tree

Forwarded by underlay PIM or ingress replication

(Note: Ingress-replication is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.)

Forwarded by underlay PIM or

ingress replication

(Note: Ingress replication is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.)

Stops at leaf ToR switch

Underlay control plane

FabricPath IS-IS

Any unicast routing protocol (static, OSPF, IS-IS, eBGP, etc.)

Any unicast routing protocol (static, OSPF, IS-IS, eBGP, etc.)

Unicast routing protocol (eBGP)

Overlay control plane

MP-BGP EVPN

Layer 3 gateway

  Internal and external routing at border spine
  Internal and external routing at border leaf
  Up to 4 FabricPath anycast gateways supported
  Internal and external routing at spine VTEP
  Internal and external routing at border leaf VTEP
  Up to 2 active-active gateways with vPC supported
  Distributed anycast gateway on leaf ToR switch for inter-VXLAN routing
  Border leaf switch for external routing

(Note: The spine switch only needs to run BGP-EVPN control plane and IP routing.)

      Border spine switch for external routing

(Note: The spine switch needs to support VXLAN routing on hardware.)

  Leaf ToR switch for internal routing
  Border leaf switch for external routing

Layer 2 VXLAN gateway

Leaf ToR switch

Leaf ToR switch

Multicast traffic

Supports:

  Layer 2 multicast traffic (forwarded by multidestination tree)
  Layer 3 IP multicast traffic (forwarded by Layer 3 PIM)

Supports:

  Layer 2 multicast traffic (forwarded by underlay PIM)
  Layer 3 IP multicast traffic (forwarded by Layer 3 PIM)

Supports:

  Layer 2 multicast traffic (forwarded by underlay PIM or ingress replication

(Note: Ingress-replication is supported only on Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.)

  Layer 3 IP multicast traffic (forwarded by Layer 3 PIM-based multicast routing on external router or Tenant Routed Multicast (TRM)).

(Note: TRM is supported on Cisco Nexus 9000 Cloud Scale Series Switches)

Supports:

  Layer 3 IP multicast traffic

Multi-tenancy

  Layer 2 multitenancy with VN-segment
  Layer 3 multitenancy with VRF-lite
  Layer 2 multitenancy with VNI
  Layer 3 multitenancy with VRF-lite
  Support for both Layer 2 multitenancy and Layer 3 multitenancy

No

Standard reference

TRILL-based (Cisco proprietary)

RFC 7348

RFC 7348 and RFC8365 (previously draft-ietf-bess-evpn-overlay)

Routing protocol

Supported hardware

  Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches including the Cisco Nexus 7700 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 5500 and 5600 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 6000 Series Switches
  Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches including the Cisco Nexus 7700 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches
  Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches including the Cisco Nexus 7700 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches
  Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches including the Cisco Nexus 7700 platform switches
  Cisco Nexus 3000 Series Switches
  Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches

For more information

For additional information, see the following references:

      Data center overlay technologies: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/switches/nexus-9000-series-switches/white-paper-c11-730116.html

      VXLAN network with MP-BGP EVPN control plane: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/switches/nexus-9000-series-switches/guide-c07-734107.html

      Cisco Massively Scalable Data Center white paper: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/switches/nexus-9000-series-switches/white-paper-c11-743245.html

      XLAN EVPN TRM blog:
https://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/vxlan-innovations-on-the-nexus-os-part-1-of-2

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