Cisco ACI is a software-defined networking (SDN) solution for data center networking that enables agility, flexibility, and scalability. It is designed to simplify network operations and reduce costs by automating network configuration and provisioning. ACI also provides a unified policy model that enables consistent security and network automation across physical and virtual networks.
• Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches: A family of next-generation, high-density, low-power consumption 10, 40, and 100 Gigabit Ethernet switches that support both forward and reverse airflow for cooling optimization. The Cisco Nexus 9000 Series offers a choice of switch chassis, form factors, and power options.
• Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure Controller: The Cisco ACI controller is a centralized policy engine that orchestrates the application-specific network policies defined by the network operator. The controller runs as a virtual appliance on any standard x86 server and can be deployed in a high-availability mode for redundancy.
• Cisco ACI Fabric Manager: The Cisco ACI Fabric Manager is a graphical user interface (GUI) for configuring and managing the Cisco ACI fabric. The Fabric Manager runs as a web application on the same server as the Cisco ACI controller and can be accessed from any web browser.
• Cisco ACI Simulator: The Cisco ACI Simulator is a virtual appliance that can be deployed on a server to provide a simulated Cisco ACI fabric for testing and development purposes. The simulator provides a “sandbox” environment in which network operators can test application-specific network policies without affecting the production network.
Cisco ACI is deployed using a leaf-and-spine architecture in which the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches are deployed as leaf switches and the Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches are deployed as spine switches. The leaf switches are connected to the spine switches using 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 40 Gigabit Ethernet ports. The Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches support up to 48 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 24 40 Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Cisco ACI uses a policy-based approach to networking in which network policies are defined in terms of applications, rather than network devices. This application-centric approach enables network operators to provision and configure network resources in a more abstracted and automated manner. Furthermore, it allows network policies to be implemented consistently across physical and virtual networks.
Cisco ACI provides a number of benefits over traditional network architectures, including:
• Simplified network operations: Cisco ACI automates many of the tedious, error-prone tasks associated with configuring and managing networks, such as provisioning network devices, configuring VLANs, and applying security policies. This enables network operators to focus on more strategic tasks.
• Reduced costs: Cisco ACI reduces the need for manual network configuration and provisioning, which can lead to significant cost savings. In addition, the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches are designed for low power consumption, which can result in additional cost savings.
• Improved agility: Cisco ACI enables rapid application deployment by automating the provisioning of network resources. This can lead to faster time to market for new applications.
• Increased flexibility: Cisco ACI supports a wide range of applications, including traditional data center applications, cloud-based applications, and Big Data applications. This makes it easy to scale the network as new applications are deployed.
• Improved scalability: Cisco ACI is designed to support very large networks with up to 100,000 endpoints. This makes it easy to expand the network as new users are added.