[Part 4] Cisco SDWAN - vManage Controllers

Management Plan { vManage; vManage Cluster}

[Part 4] Cisco SDWAN - vManage Controllers
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Overview

In today's digital era, organizations are increasingly adopting software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions to enhance their network performance, security, and agility. At the heart of Cisco's SD-WAN architecture lie three crucial controllers:

  • vManage (Management Plane)

  • vBond (Orchestration Plane)

  • vSmart (Control Plane)

Read more: Cisco SDWAN Planes

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the functionalities of vManage and understand how they collaborate to deliver a robust and efficient SD-WAN infrastructure.

Read more: Why SDWAN?

vManage Controller

Cisco SD-WAN offers a powerful management platform called vManage, which enables centralized control and visibility across the entire SD-WAN fabric. In this article, we will explore how vManage works and its key functionalities in simplifying network operations.

Centralized Network Management

vManage serves as the centralized management plane for Cisco SD-WAN deployments. It provides a single pane of glass interface through which network administrators can monitor, configure, and troubleshoot their SD-WAN infrastructure. By consolidating management tasks into a unified platform, vManage simplifies network operations and enhances overall efficiency.

Figure 1. Cisco SDWAN vManage Dashboard

Simplified Configuration and Orchestration

One of the primary functions of vManage is to streamline the configuration and orchestration of SD-WAN devices. Through vManage, administrators can easily define policies and templates that govern the behavior of WAN Edge devices, such as routing, security, and quality of service (QoS). These policies can be applied uniformly across the entire SD-WAN fabric, ensuring consistent and predictable network behavior.

Furthermore, vManage allows for seamless device provisioning and onboarding. New devices can be automatically discovered and added to the network, reducing manual configuration efforts and minimizing deployment time. The platform also facilitates firmware upgrades and software patches, ensuring that all devices are running the latest versions for enhanced security and performance.

Comprehensive Monitoring and Analytics

vManage provides extensive monitoring and analytics capabilities, enabling administrators to gain real-time insights into their SD-WAN environment. It collects and analyzes data from WAN Edge devices, generating intuitive visualizations and reports that depict network performance, application usage, and traffic patterns.

With these insights, administrators can proactively identify and resolve network issues, optimize application performance, and make informed decisions regarding network capacity and resource allocation. vManage also offers alerting mechanisms, notifying administrators of any anomalies or deviations from predefined thresholds, enabling timely remediation actions.

vManage Cluster

As the SDWAN Fabric with less than 2000 WAN Edges, the standalone vManage controller can serve well, we can create a standby (backup) vManage in another region to avoid the single node going down.

With the increasing and scaling of business, the number of WAN Edges might be larger than 2000. Enter vManage Cluster, a powerful solution that brings scalability, redundancy, and centralized management capabilities to the forefront of SD-WAN deployments. In this section, we will explore the benefits of the vManage Cluster and delve into how it works to enhance the management experience in Cisco SD-WAN.

Figure 4. Cisco SDWAN vManage Cluster Overview

Benefits of vManage Cluster

Scalability

As network environments grow in complexity and size, the ability to scale management systems becomes crucial. vManage Cluster addresses this need by allowing multiple vManage instances to work together as a cluster.

This distributed architecture enables seamless horizontal scaling, accommodating the management needs of growing SD-WAN deployments. With vManage Cluster, organizations can effortlessly add new vManage nodes to the cluster, ensuring that the management system remains efficient and capable of handling the expanding network infrastructure.

Redundancy and High Availability

Network downtime is a nightmare for any organization. vManage Cluster mitigates this risk by providing redundancy and high availability.

By distributing management tasks across multiple vManage nodes within the cluster, the system becomes resilient to failures. In the event of a node failure, the remaining nodes seamlessly take over the workload, ensuring uninterrupted management operations. This redundancy feature enhances the reliability of the SD-WAN infrastructure, minimizing potential downtime and improving overall network availability.

Centralized Management

With vManage Cluster, administrators can achieve centralized management of the entire SD-WAN fabric. The cluster acts as a single entity, allowing administrators to configure, monitor, and troubleshoot the network from a unified interface.

This centralized approach streamlines network management, eliminating the need to access individual vManage instances for different segments or regions. Administrators can leverage vManage Cluster's consolidated view to gain comprehensive insights into the network, simplify policy enforcement, and efficiently manage network resources.

How vManage Cluster Works

vManage Cluster operates on a distributed control plane architecture, ensuring seamless collaboration between the nodes.

Note

The cluster nodes communicate and synchronize information, maintaining a consistent state across the entire cluster.

The vManage cluster operates by distributing the management and data load among multiple vManage instances. Each vManage instance is responsible for managing an approximately equal number of routers within the deployment.

This distribution is achieved through control connections established between the vManage instances and the routers.

For instance, in a cluster of three vManage instances with 2400 routers, each vManage instance will have control connections to around 800 routers. If one vManage instance fails, the remaining two instances will handle control connections for approximately 1200 routers each.

To ensure the integrity and availability of the Statistics Database and Configuration Database services, they are run on an odd number of vManage instances. A quorum, which represents a simple majority, is required for the Configuration Database service.

For example, in a cluster of three vManage instances running this database, at least two instances must be running and in sync to establish a majority. If two out of the three instances fail, the database will become read-only as a precautionary measure. The same principle applies to the Statistics Database.

Making changes to the cluster configuration necessitates a reload of the NMS services. Therefore, any modifications to the vManage cluster configuration should be performed during a maintenance window when there is no active user accessing the vManage GUI.

Key components of the vManage Cluster include:

  1. Control Connections: The vManage nodes establish control connections amongst themselves, enabling coordination and synchronization of data. These connections ensure that configuration changes, policy updates, and other management operations are propagated across the cluster.

  2. Data Replication: vManage Cluster employs data replication mechanisms to ensure that critical management data, such as device configurations, policies, and monitoring information, are synchronized across the cluster. This replication mechanism guarantees consistency and coherence among the vManage nodes.

  3. Load Balancing: To distribute the management workload efficiently, vManage Cluster utilizes load balancing algorithms. This feature ensures that incoming management requests are distributed evenly across the cluster nodes, preventing any single node from becoming overloaded and optimizing resource utilization.

Embracing the capabilities of vManage Cluster, organizations can unlock the full potential of Cisco SD-WAN, revolutionizing their network management practices and paving the way for a more agile, scalable, and resilient network infrastructure.

Key Takeaway

vManage Controller remains a critical component in achieving a secure, scalable, and agile network infrastructure.

vManage Cluster is a powerful addition to the Cisco SD-WAN ecosystem, empowering organizations with enhanced scalability, redundancy, and centralized management capabilities. By leveraging the benefits of vManage Cluster, businesses can effectively manage their SD-WAN infrastructure, achieve high availability, and streamline network operations.

Note

Cisco SD-WAN and vManage are dynamic technologies, and it's always recommended to refer to official Cisco documentation and consult with experts for the latest updates and best practices.

My name is Nam who loves to talk and share knowledge related to Networking, Automation, and so on. More about me: nam-nguyen.me

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