New Switch Setup Guidelines

In this article, I have come up with a step-by-step approach to setting up a new network switch (either in a data center or campus). Think of it more like a concise checklist or a set of guidelines, which can come in handy and save time performing a repetitive task, for instance configuring a switch. The example that I have used is that of a simple layer-2 Arista switch. However, it could a switch from any vendor, as the concepts remain the same, despite a different CLI. I will write another blog post about accomplishing the same objective in an automated/templatized manner in the near future.

1. Rack and stack and ensure that the new switch has dual power connectivity to different PDUs and UPSes, coming from different power sources.

2. Configure hostname on the switch, based on a convention such as [location][data center/campus][top-or-rack/end-of-row][location code][rack number][cabinet number]
So, your switch would have a hostname like usdctor-20-1-1 or uscaeor-52-32-4. The idea here is that just by looking at the hostname, you can glean a ton of information about the switch.

3. Connect the management port on the switch to an out-of-band management network and assign that to a management VRF. Configure and IP address/Mask and Gateway. Ping the IP address and ensure that it is reachable.

4. Label the switch in the front and back immediately with the switch’s hostname and IP address.

5. Enable SSH on the switch.

6. Configure clock and NTP server information for time-sync.

7. Configure DNS servers.

8. Configure remote syslog servers.

9. Configure the required Vlans.

10. Configure Edge(host facing) ports with the right vlan/tagging and or port-channel with proper description of the connected host. For faster speeds, enable portfast on the port.

11. Configure the uplinks(switch to switch) with the right vlans/port-channels with proper description.

12. Configure TACACS information for authentication of administrators.

13. Configure SNMP on the switch.

14. Configure default gateway.

15. Enable Spanning tree. You can configure either MST/Rapid-PVST. In most modern day deployments, I have seen Rapid-PVST.

16. Backup Config to a TFTP/FTP/SCP server.

17. Add the hostname to IP mapping entry on DNS servers for the newly configured switch.

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