Software-defined networking (SDN) is no longer a trendy concept or technological curiosity. With more than 2700 customers and counting, Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (Cisco ACI™)—the industry’s leading SDN solution—has become a popular engine for automating, managing, and securing distributed IT resources and applications.
And it just got better.
The recent Cisco ACI 2.0 software release extends policy-driven automation up the stack and beyond the data center, simplifying IT operations and delivering better security and more granular control.
“The first wave of [Cisco] ACI was focused squarely on the network,” says Carlos Pereira, distinguished systems engineer at Cisco. “Our latest software release expands on that goodness in layers four through seven and across multiple locations.”
Extending the benefits of SDN
Instead of micromanaging every piece of an infrastructure individually, Cisco ACI allows everything to be centrally managed with application policies that are easy to define and replicate. As a result, manual, repetitious processes—to set up network connections, enforce security rules, make changes, and more—are reduced by an order of magnitude.
“[Cisco] ACI is the lynchpin that pulls everything together in a single pane of glass,” says Harry Petty, director of data center and cloud marketing at Cisco. “It uses a declarative policy model based on intent, describing applications in ways that everyone understands and automating the configuration of the infrastructure accordingly. Not just box-by-box configurations of network ports, but service levels for applications based on all their interconnections.”
- The open architecture can accommodate any L4–7 service, including third-party access control, firewall, intrusion detection, and load balancing solutions. And those services can all be configured and managed with a common policy model.
- Cisco ACI is also inherently secure. No connections are established without explicit, policy-based instruction, and Cisco ACI 2.0 includes more granular segmentation and control that can be extended across multiple environments and hypervisors.
“[Cisco] ACI is a groundbreaking technology that can be the catalyst for an entirely new IT operational model, or it can become a valuable piece of an existing network construct,” says Pereira. “It’s incredibly flexible and scalable, allowing organizations to start small with certain applications, workloads, and policies. And once they try it out, they invariably want to use it elsewhere.”