Cisco ACI Anywhere: Extending Stretched ACI Fabric


December 11, 2018 by Siobhan Climer

Cisco ACI – or Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure – is Cisco’s flagship data center networking offering. It enables system administrators to manage multiple data center sites, within specific distance and latency limitations, as one entity using stretched ACI fabric. This design architecture preserves application agility and enables the automation of data centers. Cisco extends the ACI fabric using ACI Multi-Site to allow SMB and enterprise organizations across the world to interconnect data centers with a focus on reliability, security, and simplicity.

With Cisco ACI Anywhere, they are implementing a new – and vital – functionality; use of the multi-cloud. By extending ACI Multi-Site to include public cloud platforms (in this case, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure), they are enabling simpler governance and meeting the data center where it is today.



Cisco ACI Multi-Site Simplifies Operational Model


cisco aci anywhereThe distribution of applications across multiple data centers poses a challenge for organizations. Running applications in multiple data centers across the world is necessary, and technology developments – like microservices and containers – are pushing businesses to do just this. Distributed environments enable application and business continuity, especially for organizations that operate across vast geographic spans. This can extend into backup and disaster recovery, which Cisco ACI seeks to support.

IT bears the brunt of this operational challenge, as they must manage, optimize, and leverage multi-site environments strategically. They’re expected to ensure seamless connectivity. The networking team is responsible for ensuring the network policies are consistent and orchestrated. That is why Cisco Multi-Site is essential. It provides the architectural approach needed to maintain consistent policies across multiple data centers. By using stretched ACI fabric, Cisco Multi-Site bundles data centers into one ACI fabric, so that network polices are applied consistently across multiple environments. That’s great if your data centers are operated by your team – or an exclusive private cloud provider– but what about in the public cloud, which businesses are utilizing more and more every day?

SDN, ACI, and Micro-segmentation, Oh My!


Cisco ACI Anywhere Goes Everywhere


Cisco ACI Anywhere extends SDN solutions into the public cloud domain. Anywhere enables unified security policies, simple operational management through APIC, and visibility in AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure. Cisco ACI Anywhere makes it so businesses can reap the benefits of accelerated application development and on-demand capabilities, and networking teams can ensure consistent policy governance.

In Cisco ACI Anywhere, the policy managed by an APIC cluster in your data center is pushed into the public cloud space. It uses the native constructs of the public cloud to deploy your data center policies across the ACI fabric. Instead of complex network policies deployed in multiple architectures, system administrators only need to do the work once. That’s the idea behind “simple governance”.


Everywhere Except …


cisco aci anywhereAlthough not the only SDN multi-environment solution, Cisco maintains itself as a leader in the Data Center Networking Quadrant by Gartner. Typical issues with deployment and implementation around Cisco ACI Anywhere include:

  • Training end users
  • Scaling over time
  • Help documentation for developers and technical support
  • Non-integrated public cloud platforms
  • Packetflow visibility
  • Packet capture to external systems
  • Application visibility

Of course, as Cisco adds new capabilities and support for ACI, many of these initial concerns will likely be moot. And, as ACI deployment becomes more widespread, help tutorials and documentation will likely increasingly focus on the most common day-to-day issues faced by the networking team. 


Why Is Cisco A Gartner Data Center Networking Leader?


In the July 2018 release of the Data Center Networking Magic Quadrant, Gartner named Cisco as a leader. Why? Gartner cites Cisco API, and the API Controller (APIC), as part of why the company has over 30% port share. Cisco continues to have a strong sense of emerging customer needs and aligns its vision closely to those developments. Plus, Cisco’s vast portfolio of hardware switches, and wide market visibility, make it easier to implement and operate than less commonly used SDN solutions.

SDN solutions are a growing market trend. If you’re considering SDN for your environment, read the Mindsight white paper Modernizing Your IT Environment With SDN. Learn more about how to prepare your data center for software defined networking. In this white paper, we walk through a real-life example of how to evolve a data center in three phases to take advantage of SDN. Along the way, we discuss the core concepts surrounding software defined networking, network virtualization, and data center modernization.

Like what you read? 


Contact us today to discuss how to implement SDN in your environment.

About Mindsight

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About The Author

Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.

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