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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Binding iSCSI Port Names to VMware Software iSCSI Initiator – ESXi 4.1

For my notes, I’m sharing what I’ve found searching the ‘net to bind VMkernel NICs to VMware’s built-in iSCSI software initiator in ESXi 4.1 I know ESXi 5.0 has changed this process to a nice GUI, but we’re stuck with the CLI in 4.1.

If you’re configuring jumbo frames as I’ve shown in a previous post, bind the VMkernel NICs after configuring jumbo frames.

Assuming you have two uplinks for iSCSI traffic, on the vSwitch of your iSCSI port group, set one uplink, temporarily, to unused. You’ll also want to note the vmhba# of the software iSCSI adapter. You can view this from the Configuration tab > Storage Adapters and viewing the iSCSI Software Adapter. You’ll also need to note the VMkernel NIC names of each iSCSI port group. You can view these from the Configuration tab > Networking and looking at the iSCSI port group. It will show the iSCSI port group name, the vmk#, IP address, and VLAN if you have one configured. Then from a CLI, either via the console or SSH, execute the following commands for each iSCSI port name:

Example: esxcli swiscsi nic add -n vmk# -d vmhba#

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How to Configure Jumbo Frames for an iSCSI Port Group – ESXi 4.1

If you want to enable jumbo frames on an iSCSI port group in ESXi 4.1, you’ll need to make configuration changes at the vSwitch and VMkernel NIC level.  Through trial and error, I found that I had to create the iSCSI port group from the command line instead of just enabling jumbo frames on an already existing port group.  At first, I already had an iSCSI port group created.  I did this via the vSphere Client.  But then enabling jumbo frames from the CLI didn’t work.  I had to delete the iSCSI port group first, then recreate from the CLI.  Note that these commands are case sensitive, including the names of vSwitches, port groups, and VMkernel NICs. These command were completed via an SSH session directly to an ESXi 4.1 host.

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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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