Designing and Building Data Center Fabrics

In this online course you'll learn the basics of data center fabrics, underlying technologies like virtualization and lossless transport, the physical and logical design of leaf-and-spine fabrics, and how to build your own data center infrastructure… while solving numerous hands-on challenges on your way to becoming a data center fabric architect.

Is This You?

  • Network architect, technical pre-sales engineer, or similar senior, technical leader role
  • Responsible for designing and building the next-generation data center for your company or your customers
  • Traditional networking engineer striving to improve your career prospects
  • Want to avoid expensive solutions and untested technologies that benefit vendors but not end-users?
  • Frustrated with confusing vendor marketing messages?
  • Prefer to build systems from manageable components over buying monolithic vendor platforms?

Leaf-and-spine fabrics are the go-to solution for modern data center networking designs, used by everyone from small data centers to gigantic web properties like Microsoft, Facebook, or Google. Explore the intricacies of data center fabric designs and become an expert with this online course!

Do You Have These Challenges

  • You were asked to design or build a state-of-the-art data center infrastructure;
  • You don't want to make decisions based on biased information like vendor design guidelines;
  • You have to design optimal solutions without knowing the capacity, flexibility or reliability requirements;
  • You have to balance proven networking designs and architectures with the latest hyped-up technologies;
  • You're wondering whether technologies like whitebox switching or network automation apply to your environment;

This online course will help you master the intricacies of data center fabric designs and enable you to build modern data center network infrastructure.

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How is this course different?

  • Transparent and vendor neutral, based on more than 25 years of design and deployment experiences;
  • Includes information products from leading data center switching vendors and emerging startups;
  • Focused on real-world problems and optimal solutions, not technologies and products promoted by individual vendors;
  • Includes sample data center designs;
  • Meet other participants with the exact same challenges;
  • Discuss your challenges with other participants and the instructors, and get immediate feedback;
  • Gain personal access to experts with real-world experience of building the next-generation data center.


The Designing and Building Data Center Fabrics online course covers these topics (explore the current course contents):

Introduction to Data Center Fabrics

  • What are data center fabrics?
  • Data center fabric requirements: optimal bandwidth utilization, redundant edge connectivity, layer-2 transport and optimal layer-3 forwarding, storage integration and lossless transport
  • Typical technologies: MLAG, storage protocols, lossless transport, integration with virtualization systems

Leaf-and-Spine Fabrics

  • Design principles
  • Physical design
  • Layer-3 fabrics, redundant server connectivity and routing on hosts
  • Layer-2 fabrics using VLANs or fabric-based overlays
  • Mixed layer-2+3 fabrics
  • Data center interconnects and external connectivity
  • Load balancing

Advanced topics

  • Typical architectures: independent devices, orchestration systems, centralized management, control or data plane;
  • Whitebox switching
  • Impact of deep buffers and packet drops

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With This Course You’ll Get

Module based self-paced course

  • 10+ modules - complete one per week or go as fast as you wish
  • Email notifications introducing each module
  • Full access for one year
  • Downloadable recordings of all module sessions;
  • In-depth content for additional self-study;
  • Review questions and hands-on exercises

Each module includes

  • Module learning goal
  • Downloadable video content
  • Reading material, including suggested in-depth material
  • Most modules include case studies and hands-on exercises

Extra bonus material

  • Yearlong access to course-specific materials;
  • Access to related webinars;
  • Reading lists and sample solutions;
  • Real world case studies;
  • Detailed explanations of select case studies.

Community and support

  • Access to Slack discussion group: work together & share experiences;
  • Membership in a private community: stay in touch long after the course & expand your network;
  • Free email support with next-business-day turnaround throughout the course;
  • Slack group discussions;

At a Glance

  • Jump-start your data center design skills
  • Build modern data-center fabrics
  • Explore the world of whitebox switching
  • Hands-on experience
  • Review questions and challenge exercises
  • Case studies
  • Live online discussion
  • Design and coding assignments

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Select the Right Product

Self-Paced Course

Mentored Course

Deep Dive Course

Overall duration ~40 hours ~40 hours ~130 hours
Guest speakers
Sample designs and case studies
Design challenges
Design solution review
Hands-on exercises

Infrastructure Areas

Data Center Fabric
Network Services
Compute and Virtualization

Mentoring and Support

Review questions
Lab Instructions
Online support forum
Email / DM support
Design Challenges 3 challenges 6 challenges
Solution review
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  1. Prices do not include VAT or sales tax. Based on your country of residence you might have to pay them - some countries want to tax all purchases of their residents, and unfortunately there's nothing we can do about that.

About the Authors

Brad HedlundBrad Hedlund (CCIE #5530) has been designing and deploying IP networks and data centers since 1996, with experience in various roles as a customer, consultant, and vendor.

Brad was with Cisco for 6 years focused on data center switching (Nexus) and computing (UCS), worked on infrastructure solutions for Big Data (Hadoop) and open source private cloud (OpenStack) with Dell, and designed and implemented NSX-based solutions with VMware.

In his spare time, Brad maintains a popular blog with topics on data center networking, virtualization, and computing.

Dinesh DuttDinesh Dutt has been in the networking industry for the past 20 years, most of it at Cisco Systems. Most recently, he was the Chief Scientist at Cumulus Networks, working on simplifying configuration and operations with inventions such as BGP Unnumbered and NetQ. Before Cumulus, he was a Fellow at Cisco Systems. He has been involved in enterprise and data center networking technologies, including the design of many of the ASICs that powered Cisco's mega-switches such as Cat6K and the Nexus family of switches. He also has experience in storage networking from his days at Andiamo Systems and in the design of FCoE. He is a co-author of TRILL and VxLAN and has filed for over 40 patents.

Ivan PepelnjakIvan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354 Emeritus, is an independent network architect, book author, blogger and regular speaker at industry events like Interop, RIPE and regional NOG meetings. He has been designing and implementing large-scale service provider and enterprise networks since 1990, and is currently using his expertise to help multinational enterprises and large cloud- and service providers design next-generation data center and cloud infrastructure using Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) approaches and technologies.

Ivan is the author of several books covering data center technologies, highly praised webinars, and dozens of data center and cloud-related technical articles published on his blog.

More about Ivan Pepelnjak

JR RIversJR Rivers is the co-founder and CTO of Cumulus Networks where he is deeply involved in the company, product, and technology direction. He's been involved with networking since Ethernet only ran on coaxial cables and worked on some of the most foundational networking products of their time, from early Network Interface Cards at 3Com through switching and routing products at Cisco. JR's early involvement in home-grown networking at Google and as the VP of System Architecture for Cisco's Unified Computing System both helped fine tune his perspective on networking for the modern data center.

Lukas KrattigerLukas Krattiger, CCIE No. 21921 (Routing and Switching/Data Center), is a Principal Technical Marketing Engineer (PTME) with more than 18 years of experience in Data Center-, Internet- and Application-Networks. Within the Cisco Enterprise Infrastructure and Solutions Group (EISG), he specializes in Data Center switching architectures and solutions across platforms. Lukas is a double-CCIE (R&S, Data Center) with several other industry certifications and has participated in various technology leadership and advisory groups.

More about Lukas Krattiger...

Roger Lapuh
Roger Lapuh holds a role as a Senior Product Line Manager and Architect for Ethernet Switching at Avaya. In this global position he is responsible for strategic Enterprise Campus and Data Center features for Avaya’s data portfolio. In recent years Roger focused on next generation network virtualization based on IEEE 802.1aq (Shortest Path Bridging), where Roger has co-authored, with other exponents of the industry, an IP/SPB draft as well as several patent submissions that significantly simplify network virtualization. In addition one of his key achievements has been the introduction of the Avaya (formerly Nortel) Multi-Chassis LAG solution (SMLT/RSMLT) in 2001. He is a holder of several patents in this area.

Russ WhiteRuss White (CCIE #2635, CCDE 2007:001, CCAr) has more than twenty years' experience in designing, deploying, breaking, and troubleshooting large scale networks. Across that time, he has co-authored more than forty software patents, has spoken at venues throughout the world, has participated in the development of several internet standards, has helped develop the CCDE and the CCAr, and has worked in Internet governance with the ISOC. Russ is currently a member of the Architecture Team at LinkedIn.

Shawn ZandiShawn Zandi is a principal network architect with LinkedIn. For the past two decades, he has worked as network consultant for various Fortune 100 companies from Dubai to Silicon Valley, building infrastructure for universities, hospitals, airports, the most luxurious hotels, plain old dial-up service providers and mega-scale data centers.

More about Shawn…