Cisco debuts ACI 3.0 for customers managing multi-cloud environments

Cisco recently updated its software-defined networking (SDN) offering solution, Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), due to the growing embracement of multi-cloud environments. According to the company, ACI 3.0 includes updated security and simplified management for any mix of workloads, containers, virtual machines, and bare metal for private clouds and on-premises data centers.

ACI originally came to fame in 2013 as a way to minimize data center complexity by combining a physical and virtual infrastructure in a single network. The technology allows Cisco customers to run applications on public and private clouds, provisioning applications on both infrastructures.

Cisco announced in August it intended to move beyond data centers as more companies embrace hybrid cloud environments. According to a survey by Dimensional Research consisting of 650 IT decision makers, 77% of businesses said they intended to implement multi-cloud architecture in the foreseeable future. Moreover, research firm IDC found that in 2015, approximately 86% of enterprises expected they will need a multiple cloud provider to manage their solutions within two years. Cisco said it was devising a way to bring ACI to public clouds such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.

New features of the ACI software include multi-site management, which allows customers to connect and manage ACI fabrics, explained Ish Limkakeng, senior vice president for data center networking at Cisco. In addition, the new multi-site management feature will help simplify disaster recovery and make it easier to scale out applications.

“As our customers shift to multi-cloud strategies, they are seeking ways to simplify the management and scalability of their environments. By automating basic IT operations with a central policy across multiple data centers and geographies, ACI’s new multi-site management capability helps network operators more easily move and manage workloads with a single pane of glass — a significant step in delivering on Cisco’s vision for enabling ACI Anywhere.”

Other features include the integration of Kubernetes, which customers can use to deploy workloads as microservices in containers, define ACI network constructs for containers, and unify network constructs for containers, virtual machines and bare metal, according to the company.

“With ‘ACI Anywhere,’ Cisco is delivering a scalable solution that will help position customers for success in multi-cloud and multi-site environments,” said Dan Conde, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. “ACI’s new integration with container cluster managers and its enhancements to zero trust security make this a modern offering for the market, whether you are a large Service Provider, Enterprise, or a commercial customer.”

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