Cisco spreads ACI to Microsoft Azure, multicloud and SD-WAN environments

Cisco’s ACI Anywhere gives customers the flexibility to run and control applications anywhere they want across private or public clouds

Cisco is significantly spreading its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology to help customers grow and control hybrid, multicloud and SD-WAN environments.

ACI is Cisco’s flagship software-defined networking (SDN) data-center package, but it also delivers the company’s Intent-Based Networking technology, which brings customers the ability to automatically implement network and policy changes on the fly and ensure data delivery. 

Cisco has extended ACI through a program and technology known as ACI Anywhere that gives customers the flexibility to run and control applications anywhere they want across private or public clouds or at the edge while maintaining consistent network and security  policies across their entire domain. ACI Anywhere implementations today include Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller, ACI Multi-Site Orchestrator and Cloud Services Router (CSR) 1000V.

ACI Anywhere would, for example, let policies configured through Cisco’s SDN  Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) use native APIs offered by a public-cloud provider to orchestrate changes within both the private and public cloud environments, Cisco said. The Orchestrator helps provision and manage the implementation across multiple sites and services.

“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. In addition, on-premises Cisco ACI orchestrates a consistent hybrid cloud experience that balances flexibility and control, while delivering hardware driven performance,” the company said.

Key new pieces of ACI Anywhere include the ability to integrate Microsoft Azure clouds and a cloud-only implementation of ACI. Cisco has been working closely with Microsoft, and while previewing the Azure cloud support earlier this year it has also added Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) to managed services that natively integrate with the Cisco Container Platform.

With the Azure cloud extension the service uses the Cisco Cloud Cloud APIC, which runs natively in Azure public cloud to provide automated connectivity, policy translation and enhanced visibility of workloads in the public cloud, Cisco said.

With new Azure extensions, customers can tap into cloud workloads through ACI integrations with Azure technologies like Azure Monitor, Azure Resource Health and Azure Resource Manager to fine-tune their network operations for speed, flexibility and cost, Cisco stated.

As part of the Azure package, the Cisco Cloud Services Router (CSR) 1000V brings connectivity between on-premises and Azure cloud environments. The service supports consistent network segmentation, access control and isolation across hybrid deployments., said Srini Kotamraju, senior director, product management, for Cisco’s data-center networking group. 

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