In recent years, cloud has been the big story in enterprise IT. Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) was designed to take advantage of this shift, and the company has been aggressively promoting the software-defined networking (SDN) platform as the way for customers to build modern data centers.
The Azure integration is just one part of Cisco’s strategy to make ACI more attractive to customers. The company is also working on making the platform easier to use and more flexible in terms of the applications and services that it can support.
The Azure integration is built into the ACI software, and it makes it possible to connect an on-premises ACI fabric to an Azure virtual network. The connection is made using Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), which is the central management point for ACI.
From the Azure side, the integration is implemented using a new Resource Provider that is available in the Azure Marketplace. The Resource Provider handles the provisioning of the necessary Azure resources, such as virtual networks and subnets.
Once the connection is established, it is possible to treat the Azure virtual network as an extension of the on-premises ACI fabric. This means that the same application policies that are used to govern traffic within the data center can also be applied to traffic flowing to and from Azure.
The Azure integration is currently in preview, and Cisco is working with a limited number of customers. The company plans to make the feature generally available in the first half of 2019.
The Cisco ACI to Azure integration is a significant step forward for the platform, and it should make it much easier for customers to take advantage of the cloud. The ability to directly connect ACI to Azure will make it possible to use the platform for a much wider range of workloads, and it will make it easier to manage hybrid cloud environments.