How Cisco ACI Works and How it is Beneficial

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When the introduction of Cisco ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) in 2013, there was a breakthrough Software-Defined Networking (SDN) solution for data centers. 

There was a crucial need for networking firms to have access to an effective networking device configuring method.

Throughout these years, there was a crucial need to have an effective networking device configuring method for networking firms. Cisco ACI addresses the need for simplicity in networking systems, which has become a necessity for enterprises. Specifically, to eliminate the need for each router and switch to be manually configured.

With the introduction of Cisco ACI, data center configuration activity is efficient, reliable, and seamless. Traditional SDN infrastructure lacks an application-optimized approach. These SDNs are too focused on complex networking modules and, therefore, are missing the necessary functionality.

How Does Cisco ACI Work?

As a policy-based networking solution, ACI combines the best elements of software and hardware capabilities. The Nexus 9000 switches are the backbone of ACI’s hardware side, and the data center policy engine and pods contribute to the software environment.

Using the Cisco Application Virtual Switch (AVS), network administrators and policymakers can mold ACI’s policy around virtual switches. Cisco’s ACI is almost identical to other solutions used by enterprises recently. However, its policy and management infrastructure is exceptional.

Since infrastructure integrates with networking protocols, enterprise data centers can now make full uses of their data fabric.

Cisco offers a built-in Layer 3 Internet Protocol (IP) mechanism compatible with Equal Cost Multi-Path (ECMP) routing, which makes it easier and more reliable to sustain a network between two endpoints. 

However, it utilizes overlay protocols, such as the Virtual Extensible Local Area Network (VXLAN), under the hood. Network configuration isn’t necessary at a physical location because this structure allows workloads to operated within a network without needing a physical location.

Its overlay protocols make data-fabric more functional, allowing network technicians to operate both physical and virtual machines in the same pattern. Layer 2 domain and Layer 3 routing can be executed simultaneously without causing a conflict between them.

The support for VLAN and VXLAN makes it far less complicated for networking engineers to host a functional network or domain as per the requirement. Also, Network Virtualization Routing Encapsulation (NV-GRE) further eases the process.

For information technology & networking managers, Cisco ACI’s central SDN integrated with Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) organizes and sets up the network policy on every switch that operates within the ACI module. ACI also eliminates the need to configure hardware. Network engineers do not have to configure devices manually.

The APIC functions as a hub source for all policies, offering the capability to position and re-position hardware components. Enterprises can also integrate Cisco ACI with various cloud environments to make it more functional and impactful.

Enterprises can also integrate Cisco ACI with various kinds of cloud-environments, thus making it more functional and impactful. Thanks to Cisco ACI, crucial components have become streamlined, including:

  • Managing data security
  • Balancing workloads and
  • Monitoring progress.

The Benefits of Cisco ACI

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Cisco ACI has multiple benefits, which make it the gold standard for data center configuration:

  • Highly responsive and easy to configure
  • Ease of configuration using GUI & REST API under a single dashboard
  • Interoperability of physical and virtual workloads
  • Integration of virtual machine monitor setup (without having to add the relevant software for hypervisors)
  • Positioning convenience with an enhanced level of speed
  • Bespoke automation of modules with multi-tenancy feature
  • Ease of creating portable structure templates
  • No fabric flood
  • Ease of integrating and automating network firewall and workload balancers
  • Ease of allocating application infrastructures within the network environment

Implementation of Cisco ACI allows integration of its three uniquely-combined hardware areas:

  • Every leaf can be simultaneously connected using The Nexus 9000 Switch Family
  • The interconnected leaves link all servers within the ACI fabric.
  • APIC serves as the central processing unit for Cisco ACI. It combines 3-5 networking servers that ease the process of organizing and managing network performance. Users can also automate the network with the help of APIC.

Rather than configuring and organizing multiple data-center switches, the ACI works as a center-point that hosts all switches and routers under one roof. s

The configuration is simplified and more manageable for networking engineers. Networking engineers use a single logical network hub to monitor different switches and routers. However, engineers must acquire a Cisco certification or complete Cisco training modules to operate the ACI at the highest possible level of skill.

Although the Nexus 9000 switches offer bespoke physical networking constituent, Cisco ACI is capable of configuring and automating the software side of the networking, including the automation of Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESXi, and OpenStack.

Progressive telemetry configurations drive the Cisco AVS integration of the Nexus 1000v virtual switch family, providing robust ACI support and interoperability.

Cisco ACI’s emerging ecosystem associates are incorporating several features to the platform, including:

  • Workload balancers
  • Firewall
  • Intrusion prevention systems, and 
  • SSL offload engines

This incorporation means there’s a rapidly growing list of networking products on the desk with which network managers can do great work!

The enhanced level of functionality and supreme agility are the two significant reasons why enterprise data centers should deploy Cisco ACI.

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