Replacing a Cisco Nexus 2224 Fabric Extender

So my team and I got a call to swing by a customer’s site on our way to another job. They told us half the ports went bad on a FEX and we were to install the replacement that just arrived onsite. In this post, I’ll explain how to replace the FEX (which is trivial) and more importantly how to verify that it’s working after installation.

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Upgrading NX-OS on the Nexus 5020

During another virtualization implementation at a customer’s site, I had the opportunity to upgrade Nexus 5020 switches. We upgraded from 5.0(2)N2(1) to 5.0(3)N2(1). The process was surprisingly simple. The steps include

1. Setting up an TFTP server
2. Uploading both the NX-OS binary and the kickstart binary
3. Installing the binaries

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Configuring Cisco Nexus 5020 and 2224 Fabric Extenders for Virtual Port Channeling (vPC)

So it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. We’ve finally finished our data center site surveys and we’re very close to starting the implementation phase. In preparation for implementation, we’ve begun testing configurations, playing with possibilities, and generally, seeing what the given hardware can do. We don’t exactly know what the architecture design team will give us to implement, but our pre-work will let us get a feel for the kinds of things we’ll be doing. For instance, we know we’ll be using virtual port channels and fabric extenders, so we’ve configured these on several of our Nexus switches. We’ll probably blow away the configs when we officially start anyways, but again, this gives us a chance to get our hands on the equipment and practice some of the same configs we’ll be using later.

The Design

Our test design will have two 5020s with 40 10GbE SFP ports plus a 6 port 10GbE SFP daughter card and two 2224 fabric extenders, FEXs, with 24 1GbEcopper ports. It will not be a cross connected FEX design because we will use servers with dual-homed 10GbE converged network adapters, CNAs, which we plan on cross connecting. Cisco does not support a design where the FEXs and the servers are both cross connected. Our test design looks the diagram below. Note that the diagram shows the server connected to each FEX via copper ports. We’ll actually be connecting each server via CNA twinax cables to the 10 Gb ports on the 5020s.

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