Nexus Dashboard Essentials: Learn How to Manage Your Data Center Fabric Like a Pro

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I’ve always been fascinated by data centers. Massive (usually non-descript) buildings, filled with similar-looking server cabinets, humming away as they generate great amounts of noise and heat. In addition to their vast physical appearance, they house untold amounts of data and applications. All of these are connected seamlessly to one another as well as the outside world, creating a link between us and places unknown.

Of course, all this data and scale comes with a challenge. How do you manage the massive amounts of network infrastructure that enable the flow of data—whether it’s to a cabinet, cage, or carrier—within your data center(s)? If you manage Cisco Nexus-based networks, the answer is simple: Nexus Dashboard. However, this leads to a new set of questions, like “How can I learn how to manage Nexus Dashboard?” and “How does the Fabric Controller work on top of Nexus Dashboard?”

We’ve heard questions like these before. That’s why I’m excited to share that we are delivering a special new program that’s sure to please tech learners, Cisco certification holders, and our Data Center community: Rev Up to Recert: Nexus Dashboard.

Now through July 8, 2024, the Cisco Data Center Nexus Dashboard Essentials | DCNDE Learning Path is available in Cisco U. for free. It’s not only an opportunity to learn how to manage your Cisco Nexus Dashboard (and the Fabric Controller application on top of it) for free, but if you’re an active Cisco certification holder, you can also gain some sweet Cisco Continuing Education (CE) Credits to boost your recertification journey—up to 26 CE credits, in fact.

Let’s explore how you can learn to manage your data center fabric like a pro with the Data Center Nexus Dashboard Learning Path. Read on for an overview of the material, how the content is structured, and what you need to know to make the most of Rev Up to Recert: Nexus Dashboard.

I’m skeptical. What’s in the Nexus Dashboard Essentials Learning Path? 

A lot. To be more specific, the Nexus Dashboard Essentials Learning Path contains roughly 42 hours of assessments, lectures, and labs to take you from a Nexus Dashboard novice to pro-level prowess—someone who can not only administer the platform and its applications but also use it to deploy and manage Cisco NX-OS fabrics, from the UI as well as the API (something near and dear to my heart).

While the DCNDE Learning Path won’t provide the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything (with apologies to Douglas Adams),  it will provide a well-rounded experience in running the platform and using it to accomplish an everyday use case, managing NX-OS EVPN-VXLAN fabrics.

OK, but what specifically does it cover? 

The DCNDE Learning Path has three major sections:

  • Nexus Dashboard Essentials | 13h 20m
    Nexus Dashboard Essentials is a great primer for understanding how the architecture has changed from a services-based Nexus Dashboard platform. The section covers the administration and operation of the underlying Nexus Dashboard platform and includes:
    • Deployment options and considerations (physical, virtual, cloud)
    • How to install applications on top of ND (like Nexus Dashboard Data Broker, Nexus Dashboard Orchestrator, or Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller)
    • User administration and role-based access control, as well as the ability to ensure the overall health (resource and licensing) of the system
  • Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller Essentials | 13h 25m
    Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller Essentials takes the same operator and administrator approach (as in the previous section) but applies it specifically to the Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller (NDFC) application. You’ll see topics such as:
    • Licensing
    • Switch image management
    • How NDFC generates configuration and compliance using templating
    • How to manage a network using NDFC’s built-in observability and monitoring toolsIf you’re familiar with Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM, which became NDFC), you will feel comfortable with a lot of this information. You may even feel tempted to skip over some of it. However, you’ll want to pay attention to the differences in the UI and the templating in case this topic comes up in the post-assessment.
  • Managing LAN Infrastructure with Cisco Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller | 15h 10m
    Managing LAN Infrastructure with Cisco Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller takes you from administrator to deployment engineer, walking you through the standard workflows to deploy a fabric within NDFC.  You’ll learn about:
      • PowerOn Auto Provisioning (POAP)
      • Device Discovery
      • How to deploy an EVPN VXLAN fabric
      • How to perform functions using the REST API within NDFC. This section also discusses the fabric-specific management and monitoring associated with deploying these fabrics so you’ll feel confident that what you deployed works.

I’m interested—what’s the catch? 

No catch. This Learning Path is free through July 8, 2024 (when Rev Up to Recert: Nexus Dashboard ends). If you haven’t participated in Rev Up, simply sign in to Cisco U. with your Cisco account. Then, accept the Continuing Education (CE) agreement, so your CE credits are automatically mapped to your active Cisco certifications. Now, you’re ready to start learning!

Track your progress with pre- and post-skills assessments. Pre-assessments are available for each section to establish a baseline of knowledge. So don’t discount the included questions! These assessments can give you a strong feeling for what the section is about (and what you should look for to pass the post-assessment).

Finally, when you’re satisfied with how much knowledge you’ve taken in, make sure you take the post-assessments for each section. Passing scores achieved for all post-assessments will net you a cool 26 CE credits—almost enough to recertify an Associate-level certification! Visit Cisco Continuing Education to see how many CE credits are required for each Cisco certification. It’s well worth the investment of time, for sure!

Don’t skip lab day, either! This free Learning Path includes access to ND and NDFC labs, so use them to your advantage!

OK, I’m sold, but one more thing; where do I go? 

D’oh! (I’m facepalming right now). To get started, sign in to Cisco U. and access the Cisco Data Center Nexus Dashboard Essentials | DCNDE Learning Path here. You can also swing by the Cisco Learning Network to join the discussion and find additional resources, like the terms and conditions, FAQ, and tips to get more out of your learning. View now

I’ll also be working through the DCNDE Learning Path, providing insights, guidance, and helpful hints, which will be released as videos on our channels. If you missed this Snack Minute episode, you can watch it right here:

With the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to understand how people can get stuck or forget to complete things, so I will do what I can to help keep you on track. If you’d like to reach out, need guidance on the Learning Path, or just want some help or inspiration, please leave a comment below. You can also find me on X (formerly Twitter) @qsnyder.


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