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Cisco's ACI adds multi-site support, multi-cloud coming next year

Kubernetes-coralled containers also get the software-defined networking policy treatment

Cisco's popped out version 3.0 of its software-defined networking Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) product, but there's a more significant update coming early next year.

ACI lets NetAdmins create and manage virtual networks, all obeying pre-set policies about what traffic can go where and when. While rival software-defined networking tools treat switches and routers as dumb boxen fit only to be pushed around by policies, Cisco's approach with ACI is to leave some functions inside its own hardware because it thinks that's more efficient and secure.

Cisco says it's won over 4,000 customers for ACI, which puts it ahead of VMware's 2,900 or so NSX users. But Cisco customers running multiple data centres have had to run up a seperate ACI rig for each, an obvious impediment to adoption.

That's now been fixed in version 3.0, which adds multi-site capabilities so it can now manage multiple ACI fabrics on different premises. Cisco told The Register version 3.2, due in early 2018, will add the ability to run in AWS, Azure and Google's clouds, to let ACI stretch into the cloud. Rodney Hamill, Cisco's data centre and cloud sales director for Australia and New Zealand, told The Register the kind of organisation that uses multiple clouds already runs multiple data centres, so version 3.0 will give them practice for when version 3.2 comes along.

Also in this release is Kubernetes support, to allow ACI to inflict policies on microservices and microsegments. Cisco thinks users want policy-driven goodness whether they run workloads in containers, VMs or good old bare metal. Adding Kubernetes support brings that consistency.

There's a new UI, too, with more troubleshooting tools. Those lucky enough to have acquired 100Gbps-capable networking kit can also put it into their ACI fabrics as of this release. ®

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