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Book Review: 'NX-OS and Cisco Nexus Switching'
Like most network engineers, most of my reading comprises technical books. This can become a chore when it comes to digesting information that has very few plots twists and an acronym count off the charts. Some authors ease this burden in their writing styles, for which I'm grateful.
Reading through "NX-OS and Cisco Nexus Switching: Next Generation Data Center Architectures, Second Edition," I found the content highly informative and technical, but not bore-the-pants-off-you dull. I recommend this book for anyone looking to purchase Nexus gear or currently supporting Nexus in their network environment.
"NX-OS and Cisco Nexus Switching" contains a nice list of line cards available at the time of the writing, and while I am sure this information will date quickly, I found the descriptions and interface allocation information, along with pictures of the blades, helpful in orienting myself with overall platform specs. The coverage of the licensing model, the modular nature of the feature sets and the basic file management of the device also gave me a good overview of what to expect as a longtime IOS user getting acquainted with NX-OS.
This book covers practically every nerd-knob the Nexus platform has to offer, and describes basic configurations of most of your typical setup tasks, like VLANs, trunking and routing protocols. For someone like myself just getting starting with Nexus, I found these Layer 2 and Layer 3 configuration examples to be helpful introductions to configuring this switch.
The real heart of this book, however, are the chapters on configuring the new functions Nexus brings to the table, like virtual Port Channel (vPC) , Fabric Path, virtual device contexts (VDCs), Nexus 1000v integration, VXLAN, Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) and Locator ID Separation Protocol (LISP). While I would still be inclined to check the Cisco documentation for nitty-gritty details on the configuration of each of these technologies, this book is an excellent reference for what you need to understand and the command syntax you will use during deployment.
[Do recent announcements by Cisco such as the Nexus 7700 indicate that the old networking-focused Cisco is back? Network Computing's Ethan Banks thinks so. Read his blog post, "Cisco Renews Focus On Network Engineers."]
"NX-OS and Cisco Nexus Switching" explains foundational concepts of the technologies being configured, but if, for example, you are not already a storage guru, don’t expect this book to make you one when deploying a technology like Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). In this case, if you don’t understand the concepts of the back-end storage at play, you will definitely want additional resources for a full understanding of how things work together.
As with most technical books, reading this reference book in a single sitting isn't ideal. Personally, it took me several weeks to read it, and I plan to go back and review chapters as I deploy and support the various technologies.
One Easter egg in this book is the migration case study at the end. For those considering a platform shift from the 6500s to Nexus, this chapter highlights some “gotchas” you should be looking for, especially regarding STP and keeping the topology stable during the introduction of your new switches. The chapter also includes some configuration samples and a migration plan you could adapt to your organization’s own set up. While this chapter won’t write your cutover plan for you, it provides an excellent starting place with some considerations to be mindful of in early project stages.
I am pleased with the level of detail and the abundance of screenshots in "NX-OS and Cisco Nexus Switching." These aspects will definitely come in handy when deploying features in the coming months. Just reading this book has increased my confidence level in my Nexus skill set, and I’m glad I have this resource on my shelf.
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