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Modernizing the Data Center Network with Cisco ACI

Posted On: September 01, 2015

Cisco_ACI_Blog bigstock-group-of-young-business-people-27218423.jpgThe transition that’s taking place in today’s data center is happening at an unprecedented pace. In the past, IT only had to support environments with relatively static workloads in specific infrastructure silos, but no more. With the arrival of the cloud, data centers have had to evolve to support highly dynamic cloud environments where workloads are provisioned from anywhere and can scale on demand to meet constantly changing application needs. While this nimble approach is enabling developers to move at a much faster pace, it’s also placing new demands on the data center infrastructure, such as...  

  • Infrastructure must become application aware and more agile to support dynamic application instantiation and removal
  • The non-virtual nature of new emerging applications means that the infrastructure must support physical, virtual, and cloud integration with full visibility
  • Infrastructure-independent applications treat the data center as a dynamic shared resource pool
  • Scale-out models promote more east-west traffic, with a need for greater network performance and scalability
  • Multi-cloud models require the infrastructure to be secure and multitenant aware 

These demands require a solution that simplifies operations while increasing application responsiveness, all while accommodating existing virtualized and non-virtualized environments. This is where Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) shines, because it makes the application the focal point of the infrastructure.

ACI is a centralized policy-based automation solution that supports a business-relevant application policy language, provides greater scalability through a distributed enforcement system, and greater network visibility through the integration of both physical and virtual environments under one policy model for networks, servers, storage, services and security. It spans both the physical and virtual infrastructure while still providing deep visibility and real-time telemetry. Additionally, Cisco ACI was built for open APIs to allow integration with new and existing infrastructure components.

The ACI solution includes these key components: 

  • Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC): The APIC appliance is the main architectural component in Cisco’s ACI solution. It is where automation and management for the ACI fabric, policy enforcement and health monitoring are centralized. This controller optimizes performance, supports application anywhere and unifies the operation of both the physical and virtual environments. 
  • Application Network Profiles: An Application Network Profile within the fabric is composed of endpoint groups, their connections and the policies that define those connections. Application Network Profile is the logical representation of all components of the application and its interdependencies on the application fabric. This enables the configuration and enforcement of policies and connectivity to be managed through the APIC instead of an administrator. 
  • Cisco ACI Fabric: Nexus Portfolio: Cisco expanded their switching portfolio with the addition of the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches, switches that offer the option of a traditional data center deployment, or an ACI data center deployment. When deployed in ACI mode, ACI application policy-based services and infrastructure automation features are active. So, even if customers aren’t quite ready to take the ACI leap, the functionality is there for the future when they’re ready.

At OneNeck, we are helping our customers transition to the modern data center through ACI, and in turn reducing their application deployment times from weeks to minutes while dramatically improving their IT alignment with business objectives and policy requirements. We can guide you in transforming your business, protect your existing Cisco Nexus infrastructure and adopt the Cisco ACI agile, open, and secure architecture.

To learn more about the Cisco ACI solution, check out this informative video.