Application Centric Infrastructure: Update

Peter Welcher
Architect, Operations Technical Advisor

I’ve been watching for additional tidbits of information about Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), prior to Cisco’s big announcements expected on November 6, 2013. This blog summarizes some new information about ACI and related matters.

A New Cisco Blog

Gary Kinghorn of Cisco just posted a new blog about ACI. Key points:

  • ACI is designed around application policy.
  • ACI is intended for the entire datacenter infrastructure (network, security, application, compute, storage, cloud). It spans the entire infrastructure including public/private/hybrid cloud. Compared to network-centric SDN.
  • ACI will apparently coordinate application delivery requirements and business policies, providing agility.
  • ACI will allow for programmed extension, API, ecosystem, etc.

The blog contains the Soni Jiandani video from VMworld 2013, which is interesting viewing.

What I find most interesting here is the emphasis on broad policy. I think Cisco (and all of us) have been grappling with all the different tools (QoS, Security, SLB, other) where we have to individually configure classes of traffic or flow groupings describing policy. I’m hoping that the ACI announcements find some way to unify all that and reduce the effort it takes. While not being alienating to organizations that are technology stovepiped. I’m also hoping the complexity level will be lowered, i.e. free us from some of the details that currently just be dealt with.

An Older Network World Article

Sometimes things make more sense or more of an impression the 2nd time you look at them. A Network World article from CiscoLive 2013 in June caught my eye recently, and fit into the “what’s ACI all about?” frame of mind I’ve been in. It describes DFA (Dynamic Fabric Automation) as automating Nexus 7000 and 7700 switch configuration and provisioning, describing it as being focused on networking (only), and contrasting it to the broader coverage of ACI. It also describes “Insieme officials” as describing SDN as limiting performance, scale, and visibility, leading to architectural rigidity. ACI is apparently designed around service profiles like those for UCS. And will support multi-tenancy, firewalls, load balancing, and various encapsulations (VXLAN, NVGRE, 802.1x) without gateways, while being hypervisor-neutral.

Here’s hoping that piqued your interest or was useful to you!

Related Links

Gary Kinghorn’s blog:

Network World article from 6/27/2013:

Life Log

I’m looking forward to the Cisco / Insieme announcements on 11/6/2013! I hope to be blogging and tweeting about them.

Twitter: @pjwelcher

Disclosure Statement


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