Steep learning curve but Cisco ACI is really worth it
May 01, 2019

Steep learning curve but Cisco ACI is really worth it

Joacim Wicander | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure

I help other companies implement Cisco ACI at their data center. From design to implementation and support. Mainly Cisco ACI is used by the IT-department. Cisco ACI solves/helps solve SDN in the data centers, and it really helps with faster deployments of services in the data centers.
  • High-Speed DC networking.
  • Extremely well suited for automation.
  • Simple to add new switches in the DC.
  • The GUI needs to be simpler, it is good but many fields don't need to be filled in.
  • Faster implementation of new networks in the DC.
  • Fewer faults in the DC, both on networking and the server.
Cisco ACI is extremely well suited in a medium to large data center, and it is always preferred to automate with tools like Ansible.

Cisco ACI is not very well suited for small data centers that have less than 4 switches because of the complexity and pricing.

Using Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure

5 - We are all consultants who help the customer design and implement Cisco ACI in their DC.
5 - The learning curve is steep when you start with ACI, but it's really worth it when you start to grasp the concepts behind ACI.

The typical consultant who designs and implements ACI is good in routing, switching and some security.
  • SDN in the DC.
  • Automation.
Cisco ACI is a leader in the DC networking market and is releasing new products and software on a regular basis. Also, the support around ACI and systems integrated with ACI, like VMware, Kubernetes, etc is extremely good.

Evaluating Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure and Competitors

  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Vendor Reputation
Customers want the automation feature, and as Cisco ACI is built around the open Rest API. It is supremely suited for this task.

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure Implementation

The following are extremely important when implementing Cisco ACI:
  • Design phase
  • Naming scheme
  • Documentation
  • Third-party professional services
I am a consultant at Conscia Netsafe, so I'm one of the guys doing the implementation at the customer site.
Yes - 
  1. Design.
  2. PoC.
  3. implementation.
  4. Test/verification.
  5. Connection of legacy DC network and Cisco ACI.
  6. Migration of servers, firewalls, load balancers, etc into Cisco ACI.
  7. Migration of DC-networking into Cisco ACI.
  8. Segmentation of DC-networks, creating files for how the EPGs are allowed to communicate (mostly done with Contracts in Cisco ACI but also done in external firewall).
Change management was a big part of the implementation and was well-handled
  • Hitting BUGs.
  • Insufficient training of network engineers.

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure Support

Extremely well-trained engineers and professional in their handling of support cases.

If the issue is really bad, the case follows the sun, i.e. if the issue isn't resolved by the TAC-engineer in Europe the case will be reassigned to an engineer in the USA and so on. this makes Cisco TAC really responsive and customers love this.
ProsCons
Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
None
Yes - Our customers do, most of them buy solution support for the controllers (APIC) and that way they can have total coverage of anything in ACI and integrated systems like VMware, Kubernetes, etc.
Every time i open a case with Cisco, which is not often, i always get exceptional support from the TAC-engineers.

Using Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure

Cisco ACI is extremely competent in handling everything for the DC-networking and if the customer wants to use things like load balancers, firewalls, etc these can be integrated with ACI and help with the config.
ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Well integrated
Consistent
Convenient
Feel confident using
Requires technical support
Lots to learn
  • Deploying multiple servers with the same networking config.
  • Integrating VMware, Kubernetes, etc
  • Automation of DC networking.