Cisco has been publicly talking about its next generation Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) since at least June of 2013. At that time, Cisco revealed that through its Insieme spin-out, it had been working on a new network architecture that puts applications first.
The cornerstone of the ACI architecture is the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), which will act as the new policy engine for enabling ACI across the network. Cisco has demoed the APIC at multiple events over the course of 2014 and has long been promising customer availability by the middle of this year.
Cisco is now enabling its customers to order ACI with APIC. The full solution is set to start shipping on July 31.
Thomas Scheibe, director, Product Management, Nexus 9000 Switches at Cisco, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that the ACI architecture doesn't necessarily require an enterprise to immediately rip and replace their existing infrastructure. One of the challenges would be for those customers that are running Cisco's widely deployed Catalyst switches.
"APIC does not talk directly to existing Cisco Catalyst switches," Scheibe said. "However, if a customer has an existing Cisco Catalyst infrastructure and wants to start using the ACI policy model with APIC, the customer can create a pod in their existing data center with the ACI Starter Kit, and the pod will extend ACI policies to the older Catalyst infrastructure if it contains applications and servers."
In that scenario, the customer just uses the Catalyst as transport and migrates workloads to the ACI Pod over time. For campus networks, Cisco has the APIC-Enterprise Module that works with Catalyst.
The ACI Starter bundle is available in multiple configurations with the the complete entry level ACI deployment model starting at $250,000.
"Just the APIC alone should not be considered an entry level SKU for ACI," Scheibe siad. "The APIC-CLUSTER-M1, APIC controller cluster for up to 1,000 edge ports has a base price of $40,293."
Cisco is now also rolling out a new lineup of merchant silicon based Nexus switches. The new switches are powered with Broadcom silicon.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.