Featured Article: Cisco ACI Migration Path Available for Legacy Nexus Switches

With Cisco Live underway this week in San Francisco, Cisco is building on early customer success for its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and is preparing for general release of its Application Delivery Infrastructure Controller (APIC) next month.

As the first data center and cloud architecture to integrate management of both physical and virtual networked resources, ACI consists of the Nexus 9000 series switches, the Application Virtual Switch (AVS), and the APIC, which will be available this calendar quarter.

ACI has been in active trials with more than 70 customers and partners with enthusiastic response. It’s shipping now, and once the APIC is released, ACI will be fully deployable. Partners already see strong customer demand for the application-focused framework as they prepare to ship ACI-based solutions. The Nexus 9000 switches and ACI solution have more than 1,000 customers in the sales pipeline, including Acxiom, Millennial Media, and Sungard.

To simplify ACI adoption, Cisco is providing interoperability and an ACI migration path for existing Nexus environments. People can deploy the ACI policy model in existing data centers based on Cisco Nexus 2000, 3000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 network switches. It is a critical piece of ACI that will allow users to consistently enforce and define application policies as apps move across physical and virtual infrastructures.

APIC provides the creation, repository, and enforcement point for all Cisco ACI application policies, which operators can set based on application-specific requirements. The APIC framework enables broad ecosystem and industry interoperability with Cisco ACI so people can build automated and scalable multitenant networks. The controller enables interoperability between Cisco ACI environments and Layer 4-7 services from a range of vendors, including:

Unlike standard, “imperative” SDN models that use a centralized controller and distributed network entities, ACI uses a “declarative management” model, which abstracts applications, operations, and infrastructure to distribute complexity to the edges. To communicate between network controllers and devices such as physical/virtual switches, routers, and Layer 4-7 network services, Cisco developed OpFlex, a new, open standards-based southbound protocol to translate and map policy definition into the infrastructure.

Cisco recently submitted OpFlex into the IETF standardization process, and the company produced an in-depth webinar discussing the OpFlex protocol and ACI.

Check out the SDxCentral Cisco Channel to learn more about Cisco’s latest developments on the SDN front.

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