Cisco enterprise controller going through paces

APIC Enterprise Module being banged on by DevNet community as it lingers in betas, field trials.

Cisco is adding its APIC Enterprise Module, an enterprise controller for its programmable Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), to its software development community to ready it for general release.

APIC EM is intended to allow IT to extend policy-based automation and configuration to WAN and access networks. It is in beta and early field trials now, and general availability will be based on the progress of those trials. Initially, it was to be available in the second quarter of this year.

In addition to the betas and field trials, APIC EM is being hammered on by software developers in Cisco’s DevNet community, a network of software coders writing applications for Cisco hardware. DevNet coders are evaluating APIC EM APIs and build applications to harness and extend its capabilities.

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When APIC EM is available, customers and developers can download it from Cisco DevNet at no charge, according to a blog post by Susie Wee, Cisco vice president and CTO of Networked Experiences.

DevNet will also be used as a delivery vehicle for ACI, Cisco’s on-again, off-again SDN. ACI’s broader APIC controller for cloud providers and enterprises will have its APIs and documentation run through DevNet as well, Wee says.

DevNet, meanwhile, is key to Cisco’s R&D and innovation activities. It was first introduced publicly at last May’s Cisco Live conference where a DevNet Zone occupied a large footprint of the exhibition space.

DevNet is intended to meet a need in networking that’s been long established in the compute, storage and application industries.

“Networking is the largest industry in Silicon Valley without a developer community,” said Dave Ward, Cisco senior vice president and CTO of engineering, at Cisco Live.

The DevNet website contains more than 100 sets of APIs for developers writing applications on Cisco routers, switches and servers, or customers looking to extend existing Cisco networks. In addition to the APIs, the DevNet website includes an interactive developer community, discussion forums and sandboxes -- 24x7 cloud lab services running on Cisco’s Unified Computing Systems for scheduling shared or dedicated test environments pre-configured on the company’s most recent products and development platforms.

DevNet currently has 80,000 developers, Wee says. The goal is 1 million, she says, adding that the development community is vital to Cisco’s strategy of offering end-to-end networking and IT architectures for ambitious initiatives like Internet of Things/Everything.

“It’s super critical,” she says. “There’s a realization that we’re creating a platform. The measure of success is the number of developers.”

And in getting those applications to market, Cisco is incubating an App Store for enterprise-grade DevNet applications and will open it by the end of the year, Wee says.

Currently, DevNet developers are writing commercial applications specific to Cisco product. Three such developers are Citrix, Davra Networks and Glue Networks.

But there are plans to include open source development as well, including OpenStack and OpenDaylight, which will be added to the DevNet community within the year, Wee says.

Cisco is careful to not position DevNet as an alternative to open source communities, she says.

“We do not want to take away from those communities,” Wee says. “Developers go where developers go. We’re creating additional tooling and adapters to hook (open source) into Cisco equipment. We don’t want to create a separate community, we want them to have access to Cisco’s assets.”

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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