New Cisco ACI fabric stretches across multiple data centers
The latest major release of the @Cisco #ACI fabric, ACI 3.0, is aimed at large enterprises looking for a single console to deliver policy-driven network services across multiple data centers.
Cisco’s third major release of its Application Centric Infrastructure lets companies run the vendor’s software-defined networking architecture across multiple data centers, excluding those of the major public cloud providers.
Introduced Thursday, Cisco ACI 3.0 can provide network services to applications running in a maximum of five data centers. Each facility can run an ACI fabric with as many as 400 leaf switches.
Cisco has aimed its latest ACI fabric upgrade at large enterprises that want to expand their use of the policy-driven form of software-based networking from a single data center to several facilities. Companies demanding multisite networking are typically at the cutting edge of technology.
A recent survey of 200 IT organizations found 90% working on networking projects that spanned multiple data centers, according to analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates, based in Boulder, Colo. More than a quarter of those companies planned to connect five data centers or more.
With ACI 3.0, Cisco is providing a competitive product to sell to those companies, said EMA analyst Shamus McGillicuddy. “Multicloud and multidata fabrics are a must-have for these cutting-edge companies.”
Cisco ACI fabrics connect across data centers
@Cisco is competing with virtualization vendor @VMware in letting companies replicate the vendors’ respective application-centric networking environments so customers can manage a multisite configuration as one. The core of VMware’s approach is its #NSX network overlay, while Cisco uses its hardware as the foundation.
Companies that want to access all the capabilities of ACI 3.0 will have to use Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) to build in each data center a networking fabric comprised of the vendor’s Nexus 9000 switches. Once that is done, the customer can connect each structure to an APIC-powered appliance that presents a single view of the multisite network.
From the appliance’s software console, network engineers can create and distribute application-centric traffic instructions to defined groups of switches in the form of policies. Also, management and monitoring tools can pull network and application performance data through the appliance’s APIC APIs.
ACI fabric’s multisite capabilities
Across multiple sites, ACI 3.0 can keep packet delivery to one second or less, said Srinivas Kotamraju, director of ACI product management at Cisco. Traffic to an application that suddenly goes down in one data center can be redirected to a backup in another facility without changing the IP address.