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ACI Anywhere!

By Tom Edsall, Cisco

August 21, 2017

Evolving beyond multi-pod and multi-site deployment models, ACI will soon be available within public cloud environments, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure

At Cisco, we are proud that over 4,000 customers have chosen Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), the industry’s #1 Software Defined Networking (SDN) solution, to increase operational efficiencies, deliver network automation, and improve security for their on-premises data centers and private clouds. But we’re not stopping there.

In our mission to deliver ACI anywhere, today I’m excited to announce our plans to extend ACI into the public cloud domain. Key attributes of the ACI solution, such as unified security policy, single-pane-of-glass management, and visibility, will soon be available in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.

As a result, customers will have the flexibility to run applications across their own private clouds, as well as public clouds of their choice, while maintaining consistent network policies across their entire multicloud domain.

Cloud providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft have helped enterprises accelerate application development by simplifying operations and making resources available on-demand. While this has allowed rapid innovation and business transformation, most enterprises look for the combination of public cloud and on-premises infrastructure based on their specific applications, as well as business models. This is challenging IT teams to think differently about how to design and manage their unique multicloud environments where application mobility, consistent policy, and rapid provisioning across multiple private and public clouds is of paramount importance.

Our goal with ACI from the early days has been to offer our customers choice in how and where they run applications.  Today, ACI supports multiple hypervisors, bare metal servers, and Linux containers on premise. At the same time, we have co-engineered and validated with over 65 Data Center ecosystem partners who have integrated their products and solutions with ACI – making it the most open, flexible and widely deployed SDN solution in the industry.

As our customers look to expand the execution venue of their applications across the multicloud domain, we are extending the same benefits within AWS, Google and Microsoft cloud environments.

Initially, we are focusing on three main approaches in how we will bring this to market:

  1. Extending ACI policy and workflows into public cloud: In this model, policies configured through APIC (our SDN controller) will leverage the native APIs offered by a public cloud provider to uniformly orchestrate changes within both the private and public cloud environments. This approach offers consistent policy and automation using an established ACI interface without compromising performance or access to a rich array of cloud-native public cloud services.   An example of this would be mapping Cisco ACI policies to constructs in Amazon Web Services, such as virtual private clouds and security groups.
  2. Integration of public cloud software with ACI to enable hybrid cloud: With this approach, Cisco ACI (on-premises) will integrate with software designed by cloud providers, such as Microsoft, to orchestrate a consistent hybrid cloud experience that balances flexibility and control, while delivering hardware driven performance.
  3. Collaboration in Open Source: Cisco is engaging with public cloud providers to support open source management tools. By running the same open source software with a set of community-defined APIs on premises and in the public cloud, we can offer a seamless application environment in a truly open manner.  Working with cloud providers like Google on Kubernetes, an open source project for managing cloud-native applications, is an excellent example of such an effort that is already supported with the most current software release for Cisco ACI 3.0.

We’re incredibly excited to help our customers in their cloud journeys by extending ACI into public cloud environments without compromising security, automation, or control they are used to in their on-premises environments.

Any workload.  Any hypervisor.  And any cloud. Simply put, ACI Anywhere.  Stay tuned.

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