Cisco during a live conference in Barcelona announced that the company will be offering a complete integration of the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) with other IaaS providers such as AWS and Azure. Cisco had also recently announced that it will be adding the ACI to its bare metal cloud infrastructure service. The networking enterprises have seen the infrastructure growth over the last decade wherein the network has just not been confided only towards the perimeter of the data center. Cisco will soon be extending the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) designed specifically for the Cisco switches to manage the software-defined network but now can also be availed with AWS and Microsoft Azure infrastructure solutions.

What Exactly Is The Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)?

The Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) was released in the year 2014, after which it was regarded as the main feature for the data center networking. It also brought the domination of Cisco in the infrastructure service of data centers. ACI offered a complete solution adopting the user experience, automation, and scalability to improve the data center infrastructure. ACI empowers the IT admins to considerably reduce the cumbersome tasks of fine-tuning the data centers of any size. ACI has simplified the data center networking through automation effectiveness that reduces the complexity for deployment of data center network. Without the automation, various Nexus switches were installed in the data center environment and all had to be configured manually. Using the ACI the IT admins can configure the total network as a single entity and manage all of them through the APIC.  ACI offered a better option with Cisco infrastructure saving time and cost.

The Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) uses leaf-spine-leaf topology (CLOS) that makes it both simple and scalable. It’s easier to expand and adapt when needed, the legacy network was much more bounded by the VLANs, Subnets, routers, and trunks.  With its HTML 5 based GUI simplifying the total network strategy for the IT admins. Using the ACI the enterprises also brought in the integration of the infrastructure such as virtualization, orchestration and container networking providing the end to end configuration setup and also simplifying the network configuration. Enterprises are adopting various cloud options to run its applications, whether it’s on-premise data center or collection data center. The different infrastructure options are currently flooding the market of network development and it’s predicted that the distributed edge computing will soon be disrupting the market. Though enterprises are highly susceptible to maintain the same infrastructure over the course of time, many experts believe that the best option will be a combination of all the infrastructure solutions. Hence, many of the networking vendors are pushing forward the option of multiple data center strategy combined with the network solutions to automate the complete process. There also has been an increased push towards the software-defined objective rather than the actual infrastructure solutions. Cisco offers the ACI to infrastructure providers such as AWS and Azure to help them define their services on the cloud. Roland Acra, Senior VP and General Manager of Cisco’s data center business group told DCK that enterprises are looking for solutions that can be affordable and can satisfy the infrastructure requirements of all different applications. However, the current decision of any cloud solution depends on various aspects of business growth and they can’t be ignored.

Cisco started as a hardware company and soon expanded in the software space. ACI started as an on-premise software-defined network (SDN) that complimented the Cisco hardware Nexus. The enterprise also added the feature such as ACI support in case of disaster recovery, remote locations, edge computing with a distributed system and the ACI also started supporting the non-ACI switch. Acra added that it could run a set of VMs on the hypervisors without any of the pieces had or didn’t have any of the Cisco hardware.

Roland Acra also added that the ACI will travel from the hardware agnostic towards the cloud agnostic with the recent decision. The enterprises want to use multiple cloud platforms to support their data center requirements and single vendor lock-in can increase the security risk on the data. The current ACI approach supports different container frameworks such as Kubernetes and Red Hat’s Openshift along with different workload deployment supporting different cloud environments. Roland Acra also added that the unique approach that we are following is extending the SDN, the policy, and the segmentation to the applications and data on the Azure or AWS. Using the virtual ACI Cisco has been able to cover both the hardware and software with the VMware’s NSX that is only software oriented. The innovation towards the automation of data center management will be defined with support to the other cloud vendors rather than only the infrastructure.     The Cisco data center approach of anywhere and any location reflects the approach from the circled environment to the distributed environments. Currently, many of the infrastructure vendors have some type of hybrid IT support that allows the customers to run same applications cloud and on-premise. So as the requirements of the application increase the enterprises are looking towards cloud environments. Many of the current enterprises have adopted the multi-cloud environment and most of the enterprises will operate in the hybrid environment. The providers want to reduce the complexity of management and deployment and so are the enterprises. Leveraging the Cisco ACI for both the private data center and colocation data center will help the enterprises successfully scale the environment without disrupting the current applications.

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