Cisco Announces its Software Defined Network – Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)

So when I did my VMworld 2013 Europe round up, I mentioned that it was strange to see that Cisco were not one of the supported partners for NSX and I hinted at the possibility of Cisco having something SDN up their sleeves (also from rumours heard from Cisco employees)…..

And so at the beginning of the month they announced their entry into the SDN arena….. Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)….

I have to hold my hands up and say I’m not a networking guy (in fact it’s pretty rare in the IT market to find someone who knows server/network/storage/virtualisation….!), so I haven’t really had a chance to read up on ACI and understand how it works and differs from VMwares’ NSX.

From what I can see, ACI is pretty much reliant on you having a Cisco switch infrastructure – and specifically their new line of Nexus 9000 switches!
So whilst VMware NSX is a proprietary software control layer which doesn’t care what the underlying switch hardware is, ACI locks you into Cisco hardware but gives you the choice of what software control layer you use via APIs (integration into OpenStack, Hyper-V, VMware, etc).
Clever tactic, as it means that whilst you maybe locked into Cisco switches, it means you can deploy any sort of hypervisor!

This obviously becomes very interesting when you start looking at the converged stacks like VCE, VSPEX and FlexPod…… if SDN is going to be implemented, it’s more than likely that Cisco’s ACI will win here just because of how open it looks!

On a side note, it turns out that ACI could be a by-product of Cisco’s stealth start-up company – Insieme Networks – funded solely by Cisco and un-surprisingly run by the same guys that brought Cisco their UCS server portfolio (Nuova) and their MDS SAN switches (Andiamo)…. There’s a very interesting article on Bloomberg about Mazzola and his motley crew of engineers!

Getting Network Adapter information using PowerCLI

So recently I was asked for a list of MAC addresses for all the VMs in my demo environment… Didn’t really want to do this manually by going into each VM and checking the hardware settings, so thought I’d see if I can find some PowerCLI commands that will do the job…… After a short dive into the PowerCLI reference guide I found the following commands worked:

Get-VM |
Get-NetworkAdapter |
Select-Object -property Parent, MacAddress
Format-List -Property *


Note: I’m assuming you know how to use the vSphere PowerCLI Interface….. if not, you’ll need to connect to the vCenter Server in PowerCLI before running the cmdlets above!

If you don’t use the Select-Object command, it will list every property field for each of the network adapters, as I only wanted the VM name and MAC address, those were the properties that I chose.

You can even output the info to a txt file by adding the > c:\xxx.txt after the Select-Object command line, or even output to a csx file (using | Export-csv c:\xxx.csv)

vCenter Server 5.5.0a Released

Hmm…. an update to 5.5 already!

Release notes here:

If you’re using the vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) and have already upgraded from 5.1 to 5.5, then updating the appliance is a very simple process if your vCSA is able to connect out to the internet:
Note: this update process will reboot your vCSA so you will lose connectivity to your vCenter Server! Be warned!

1. Log into the admin page of the vCSA – https://ip-address:5480 using the root account (default password is ‘vmware’)

2. Select the Update tab and click Check Updates under the Status section

3. Select Install Updates and click OK to start the update process

5. Once update is complete (for me it was about 10mins – dependent on size of DB), reboot the vCSA to initialise the new update.

6. Click the System tab and click the Reboot button.

Once rebooted, the vCenter Server should be assessible again.

If you are not connected to the internet, then you can download the update ISO file from your ‘My VMware’ portal.
Once downloaded (about 1.6GB), mount the ISO file to the vCSA VM and navigate to the Settings section under Update. Select Use CDROM Updates as the Update Repository, click Save Settings and then follow the instructions outlined above from Step 2.