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May 29

Cisco ACI: Is It Wham! or Sam Cooke?

An odd little title, I think you will agree, but consider this: Wham! had a hit with “Freedom” and Sam Cooke sang “Chain Gang,” and I think you can now see my thought process. This post is going to investigate not the technical capabilities of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), but rather what its market placement will mean to the software-defined networking (SDN) industry.

Firstly, Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), the brains behind its SDN product ACI, can only run on CISCO equipment. More importantly, APIC can only run on Nexus 9000 series switches. These are:

  • Not cheap
  • Only for the biggest environments.

So, what about those who have invested in Nexus 7000s and below? Well, up until the Cisco Live US conference, you were effectively legacy. However, Cisco recently stated that the APIC will now be able to overlay application workloads to older (read Nexus-only) switches. The first switch that will be able to have these policies is the Nexus 1K; the only issue is that a Nexus 9K series switch is still needed. Not looking so inviting now, is it? What is important here is that it is an overlay.

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