Cisco Design Zone for Data Centers and Data Center Assurance Program (DCAP)

In my last blog I discussed the Cisco Validated Design (CVD) Program as a resource for network design best practices and guidelines. Cisco has also been on a data center marketing kick lately since they can see how much money can be made from DC networking. Part of this marketing, right along with CVD, is the Design Zone for Data Centers. The Design Zone for Data Centers organizes CVD I, CVD II, and SRNDs for DCs. It also included the very cool Data Center Assurance Program (DCAP). Version 3.0 of DCAP was recently released which "builds on the previous phase by tying many of the individual data center elements together through the use of business applications. While the previous phases of testing focused mainly on the individual performance of siloed technologies such as LAN, SAN, global site load balancing, and WAN optimization, DCAP 3.0 delivers end-to-end data center deployment." DCAP is an extension of the Cisco Safe Harbor quality program. It also includes a very cool interactive tool which shows actual DC designs with complete configurations. Many of Cisco.com's documents and design guidelines show snippets of IOS commands, but the DCAP Interactive Tool has full device configurations so you can get a complete view of the validated network design. For example, here's a complete config for a 6500 core router. DCAP goes into many types of devices and best practices including MDS SAN switches, Global Site Selectors (GSS), and recommended IOS versions. There is also information on how to connect a second DC and remote field sites. This is all good information to use as a reference and a baseline for data centers. Data Center networking is becoming a critical part of network design (something the CCIE does not test for, BTW). Gone are the days where the DC was a high-speed LAN with a bunch of VLANs. Data Centers now need routing, application intelligence, load balancing, SANs, security, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and there's all those servers to connect - from mainframes, to blades, to rack-and-stack devices running VMWare. And don't forget the storage. Data Centers have reached network design complexity parity with WANs and global routing and will soon eclipse those areas. Cisco's Design Zone for Data Centers and Data Center Assurance Program (DCAP) are great resources to study and keep in your toolbox.

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