Cisco has unveiled an Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and an open ecosystem of partners to help customers unleash their applications and enable greater business agility. With ACI, Cisco promises to reduce complexity in network administration delivering integrated management of both physical and virtual networked IT resources, all built around the needs of applications.
Hosting provider OVH, one of the world’s largest hosting providers based in France, states that the Cisco Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) will bring great advantages for its hybrid cloud hosting offerings. The launch of Cisco ACI coincides with the full acquisition of Software Defined Network (SDN) company Ansieme, in which Cisco already held a 85% ownership stake.
“We are impressed with Cisco ACI features and functionality, and want to deploy the standard-mode Nexus 9000 Series now, with a gradual move to full Cisco ACI,” said Octave Klaba, CEO, OVH.com. “Cisco ACI will offer huge advantages in deploying hybrid cloud hosting solutions to customers, and we appreciate the two-step approach that Cisco is offering; we can move to a very cost-effective 40 Gigabit architecture now, with full software management functionality later, as we get the system in place, and get our staff trained.”
Cisco ACI intends to unify IT components
Today, separate inefficient silo’s without a shared architectural model can have a negative impact on application performance. Also, IT components can be difficult to configure, complex to troubleshoot, and cumbersome to change. Cisco had the vision of changing that, to reduce complexity and give way to speed and agility.
To break down these silos and unify all the component parts of IT- networking, storage, compute, network services, applications, security – and manage them as a single, dynamic, entity: that’s what ACI intends to accomplish. ACI couples innovations in software, hardware, systems and ASICS with a dynamic, application-aware network policy model built around open APIs to reduce application deployment from months to minutes.
The Cisco ACI achieves this by unifying physical and virtual networks and offering security, compliance and real-time visibility at the system, tenant, and application levels at unprecedented scale. ACI is comprised of the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), the Nexus 9000 portfolio, and enhanced versions of the NX-OS operating system. The new Cisco Nexus 9000 is the foundation building block for the Cisco ACI solution, enabling a smooth transition from optimized NX-OS to the ACI-mode of NX-OS with a software upgrade and the addition of APIC.
Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) would:
- Deliver up to 75 percent total cost of ownership savings versus software only-network virtualization, leveraging existing cabling investments, and delivering the most efficient modular data center switch via an innovative backplane free design reducing power and cooling costs by 15 percent
- Accelerate Application Deployment Time to Minutes improving business agility through centralized management, application network profiles, L4-7 network service automation, and open APIs
- Centralize Policy Management Simplifying Operations and Empowering IT Teams through system wide policy control unlocking the power of collaboration across application, network, security, virtualization, compute and storage teams
- Facilitate Investment Protection through Open Protocols, APIs and Standards leveraging customers’ existing: networking, services including security, physical and virtual compute, and storage assets
Components of the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) include:
* Cisco Nexus 9000 switch family The Nexus 9000 Series offers modular and fixed 1/10/40 Gigabit Ethernet switch configurations. They are designed to operate in either standalone NX-OS mode or in ACI mode to take full advantage of ACI’s application policy driven services and infrastructure automation features. This dual capability provides investment protection and a migration path to ACI though a software upgrade. The portfolio includes:
- Cisco Nexus 9508 Switch: an 8 slot, compact 13 RU form factor chassis designed for high density End-of-Row (EoR) and high performance 10/40GbE aggregation layer deployments.
- Cisco Nexus 9300 Switches: fixed switches designed for top-of-rack and middle-of-row deployments.
- Cisco Nexus 9396PX Switch – a 960G switch with 48 fixed 10GE SFP+ ports and 12 40-Gbps QSFP+ ports
- Cisco Nexus 93128TX – a 1.28T switch with 96 fixed 1/10GBASE-T ports and 8 40-Gbps QSFP+ ports
In the first half of 2014 Cisco expects to extend the Nexus 9000 switch family to include a four-slot and 16-slot system and additional top of rack switches. More details will be released over the coming months.
* The Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (Cisco APIC) is the unified point of automation and management for the ACI fabric, policy programming, and health monitoring. It optimizes performance, supports any application anywhere, and unifies management of physical and virtual infrastructure. The APIC is a highly scalable, clustered software controller capable of managing 1M endpoints. Unlike traditional SDN controllers, it operates independently of switch data and control planes allowing the network to respond to endpoint changes even when the APIC is offline. It enables tremendous flexibility in how application networks are defined and automated and is designed from the ground up for programmability and centralized management.
* Application Network Profiles define the requirements of an application and its interdependencies on the underlying infrastructure. APIC leverages these profiles to dynamically provision networking, services, compute storage and security policies, no matter where the application is, or how it changes.
* Cisco Virtual ASA (ASAv) provides a fully integrated security services based on application needs designed specifically for ACI. ASAv scales on demand and would operate seamlessly in both physical and virtual environments with tight integration with APIC. This simplifies security administration and allows organizations to take a holistic, policy-based approach to data center security without compromising functionality.
* The Cisco Application Virtual Switch (Cisco AVS) is an ACI-enabled virtual switch that is optimized for consistent policy enforcement, providing improved visibility and performance of applications running on ACI. The distributed virtual switch is managed by the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller for centralized provisioning and orchestration.
ACI Industry Ecosystem
Cisco also announced today an ecosystem of industry leaders to help customers leverage, customize and extend their existing IT investments through Cisco ACI. Technology leaders that support today’s announcement include: BMC, CA Technologies, Citrix, EMC, Embrane, Emulex, F5, IBM, Microsoft, NetApp, OpsCode, Panduit, Puppet Labs, NIKSUN, Red Hat, SAP, Splunk, Symantec, VCE, and VMware.