The New Cisco Virtual Switch Update Manager

Over the past few months I’ve had an opportunity to participate in a beta of Cisco’s new Virtual Switch Update Manager (VSUM). What is VSUM? VSUM is a free virtual appliance from Cisco that integrates into the vSphere Web Client. Once deployed, VSUM allows you to do the following (all from the web client):vsum

  • Deploy Nexus 1000v and Application Virtual Switch (AVS)
  • Upgrade the 1000v and AVS
  • Migrate virtual networking from vSwitch/VDS
  • Monitor your 1000v/AVS environment

One thing you won’t get is the ability to configure and manage 1000v features and port profiles from the web client…yet. This is something Cisco is looking at and I hope it will be available in a future release.

I won’t bore you with a lot of the compatibility details, you can find that on Cisco’s website or look at their press release for VSUM, but I will list a few major ones:

  • Supported on vCenter 5.1 and 5.5
  • ESXi 4.1 and up
  • Supports 1000v 1.5.2b, 2.1.1a, 2.2.2 and 3.1 (AVS 1.0 also supported)

The VSUM appliance is built on CentOS, comes in OVA format and is easy to deploy. All you need is an IP address and some vCenter particulars (IP, credentials). The appliance comes pre-configured with 2vCPU, 4GB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. However, I have see very little resource usage on all fronts. Once you have the appliance deployed it automatically connects to vCenter and installs/registers the web client plugin. I will illustrate the basic installation in a future post.



The biggest new feature that I’m excited about is the upgrade feature that is built in. If you’ve ever had to upgrade the VSM/VEM components you’ll understand why this is exciting. Prior to VSUM you had to go find the new update through vSphere Update Manager (for the VEM only) and manually go find the VSM download from CIsco’s website. Then you had to go through the process of figuring out which versions of VEM were compatible with the VSM versions and all this other mess. If you install a version of VEM that isn’t compatible with the VSM then you had to manually go and uninstall that VIB and then figure out how to get the right version loaded. Hopefully you can see where I am going with this. With VSUM, all the images for 1000v (VEM and VSM) and the AVS are stored on the VSUM appliance. Furthermore you can upgrade all components from the web client and they make it VERY hard for you to mix and match versions that are not compatible with each other. Did I mention that VSUM is free? This is a no brainer.

Here are some of the other features you get when upgrading with VSUM:

  • VSUM automatically identifies the best version of the 1000v you should be running
  • Identifies any dependencies, such as Cisco Prime Network Controller (PNSC)
  • Option to customize upgrade if you so desire

One thing I’ll point out is the distinction between Nexus 1000v and AVS. You can’t run these in parallel. It is one or the other. They both use a VEM (same code base) and both get installed as a VIB on the ESXi host. AVS is part of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), so if you’re not running ACI you won’t be using AVS.

A lot of people ask me “why would I want to use the 1000v?” Normally I see people using the 1000v that run Cisco Nexus gear. The 1000v gives autonomy to the network team and allows virtualization admins to get experience on the NX-OS side of the house, if they aren’t already. The 1000v also integrates into other Cisco products (ASA1000v, Virtual Security Gateway and others) which is another reason people like it.

If you’re running Cisco Nexus1000v currently or are interested in taking it for a test drive (it’s free by the way) head over to Cisco’s website and get you some VSUM.

Comments 5

  1. Nice blog, an dI do agree a good step forward to manage N1K.
    However, I probably missed something. You stated:
    “With VSUM, all the images for 1000v (VEM and VSM) and the AVS are stored on the VSUM appliance”
    I our VUM only the current installed version of VSM is listed. I’m wondering how to get newer versions listed in VUM. Can’t find any thing in the Cisco docs on VUM apart from screenshots where multiple version of VSM are shown. Hope you can shed some light in this.

    1. Post

      Hey Jan, sorry I didn’t see this comment earlier. VUM will only have versions that you have imported manually or as part of the non-critical updates baseline. All the images will be stored for the VSM/VEM in VSUM, Virtual Switch Update Manager (not VUM). I think that is where the confusion is. If you wanted to see newer versions of the VEMs you should be able to find them in the non-critical updates baseline, or you can manually download them from VMware’s website and import them. Updates for the VSM have to be retrieved from Cisco’s website.

      Hope that helps.

  2. Hi Josh

    Great to see Cisco finally release a tool like this. VSM updates are not fun ;). Do you know if VSUM supports the ability to connect to multiple vCenters? I haven’t found anything in the docs and suspect the answer is no, but asking none the less. I suspect I will have to deploy a VSUM per vCenter which isn’t ideal, but workable.


    1. Post

      Hey David,

      I got confirmation back from one the VSUM product managers that it is a 1:1 mapping of VSUM to vCenter. There are discussions about making it multi-vCenter in the future, but as of right now it hasn’t been put on the roadmap.

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