Contents: Overview Key Features Download Documents Whitepapers Videos FAQ
Dell’s Active Fabric Manager is a key software application to automate tasks associated with designing, building and monitoring data center fabrics, reducing fabric deployment time by up to 86% compared to manual configurations. Users can now design and deploy Layer 2 & Layer 3 fabrics within a matter of minutes. Unlike traditional Network Management tools that primarily focus on performance monitoring of various network elements, AFM has been built ground-up as an automation and orchestration tool for the entire fabric.
AFM includes many innovations that can save time and eliminate manual tasks associated with fabric design and deployment. For example, AFM includes a design wizard which simplifies the entire process of designing a network fabric, end-to-end. The wizard prompts the user to provide inputs required for the fabric design in an intuitive fashion. In the background, AFM carries out all necessary calculations to present the most appropriate fabric topology, eliminating guesswork and errors that are common in network design and implementation. The designs are derived from a set of predefined templates that have been validated for deployment as Layer 2 or Layer 3 fabrics, including spine-leaf Active Fabric topologies and underlying technologies such as Dell Virtual Link Trunking (VLT) and stacking.
AFM 1.5 is the latest version and was released in June 2013. Here are the feature highlights.
AFM provides a user-friendly solution for deploying complex fabrics, putting within reach for a great number of data centers the type of advanced network architectures needed for innovation in today’s highly virtualized environments.
AFM is currently available as a free download which can be accessed by clicking here.
Active Fabric Manager - Spec Sheet
Active Fabric Manager – Installation Guide
Active Fabric Manager – Deployment Guide
Active Fabric 1.5 Features and Technical Overview - Whitepaper
Data Center Design Considerations with 40GbE and 100GbE
Installing the AFM 1.5 Virtual Appliance
Deploying an Extra Large non-blocking Layer-3 Fabric with Active Fabric Manager
Active Fabric Manager tech talk at Interop 2013:
Video Presentation of AFM 1.0 by Brad Hedlund (note: this is not for the latest version of AFM)
1. What is AFM?
AFM is standalone software from Dell Networking that is aimed at automating the tasks associated with the deployment of datacenter fabrics. The tasks span the various stages of the fabric deployment lifecycle that includes Design, Build and Run (Monitor).
2. What is the difference between DFM and AFM ?
AFM (Active Fabric Manager) is the new name for DFM (Dell Fabric Manager). Starting with the version 1.5, the name of the software is AFM.
3. Is AFM applicable only for Distributed Core deployments?
With AFM 1.5, we are automating the design and deployment of Layer-3 Fabrics (a.k.a Distributed Core) as well as Layer-2 Fabrics leveraging VLT (Virtual Link Trunking).
4. Does AFM support MXL?
Yes. AFM 1.5 has added MXL as a supported platform and is included as a switching device in the supported Layer-2 topologies. AFM also automates the stacking of MXL switches across M1000e blade chassis.
5. Does AFM support IOA?
No, AFM does not have IOA as a supported platform. IOA is a device that is targeted to be administered by server administrators whereas AFM is primarily for network administrators.
6. What are the various switches that are supported with AFM 1.5?
The switches supported are Z9000, S4810, S4820T, MXL, S60 and S55.
7. What is the maximum number of switches supported in a particular fabric?
This depends on the AFM design template and the oversubscription that is chosen by the user. For instance, the Layer-2 topology with 10Gb endpoints supports 2 Z9000s (in a VLT pair) in the Spine Layer and upto 26 S4810s(13 VLT pairs) in the leaf layer. Please refer to the AFM 1.5 User’s guide for all supported topologies and the scalability limits.
8. What is license cost for AFM?
There is no licensing associated with the current version of AFM software. However, AFM includes ProSupport SKUs which will entitle the customers to call TAC for technical support.
9. What happens when the AFM server fails?
AFM software operates out of the data path. Failure of the AFM server does not impact the operations of the fabrics under management. However, AFM server failure can be mitigated by opting for the High Availability feature supported with off-the-shelf hypervisor functionality like VMware HA.
10. Is AFM embedded with FTOS ?
AFM is standalone software that is packaged as a holistic virtual appliance and runs in its own virtual machine. It is not a component of FTOS.
11. Does AFM support PowerConnect switches?
AFM currently does not support the PowerConnect switches and only focuses on the datacenter portfolio. In a later release, AFM will add support for campus fabrics as well.
12. Where can I download the AFM software from ?
AFM support can be downloaded at http://marketing.dell.com/afm-software
13. What operating systems are supported by AFM ?
AFM 1.5 is being packaged and distributed as a holistic virtual appliance that includes the underlying Operating System (Cent OS). The virtual appliance is OVF (Open Virtualization Format) compliant and can be deployed on any standard hypervisor. However, all of the testing has been done with VMware vSphere and VMware Workstation.
14. Does AFM have support for Fibre Channel / FCoE / converged fabrics ?
AFM 1.5 does not support topologies with LAN/SAN convergence. This will be available in the next release of AFM when support for S5000 is included. Please refer to AFM roadmap for release timelines.
15. What is the difference between AFM and ASM (Active System Manager)?
AFM is targeted at the network admin and provides an automation solution to design, deploy and monitor datacenter fabrics. ASM is complementary software from Dell that automates the deployment, and management of physical and virtualized CI (converged infrastructure). ASM is primarily targeted at the CI admin.
16. Does AFM replace the commonly deployed NMS tools ?
No, AFM is complementary to NMS offerings like OMNM and FogLight NMS. In a subsequent version, AFM will be able to link and launch the NMS consoles. Please refer to AFM roadmap for release timelines.