Cisco ACI Review

We get faster deployments of network policies based on applications that we provide


What is our primary use case?

The primary use case for this product is to enhance the speed of certain tasks in the network. We get faster deployments of network policies based on applications that we need to provide.

What is most valuable?

The centralized management of the entire network data center, in this case with ACI, is the most valuable feature. By having access to some powerful APIs you can build your own tool to speak to the ACI controller, then with that, you can deploy things really fast. Having the option to build your own tools and then using the centralized management of the ACI to push the configuration to the network devices is very valuable.

What needs improvement?

The error messages should be improved. Sometimes we want to remove an error message so we acknowledge an error and we would then like to remove it but there's no real way of doing that. If we need to do it, we need to open a tech case. That could use improvement. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

From my experience, it seems like a really stable product. The only thing that concerns me a bit is the fact that you have a lot of errors. It gives you a lot of error messages and they mostly don't really influence the functionality, so it still works. It just notifies that there is some misconfiguration and I think it will scare people with these kinds of messages that don't really have an influence on the functions. Operating the ACI fabric is a concern I have. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have seen the guide for scalability and I think it's great. I have no complaints. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We had some problems so we opened a tech case and we got help. We could do the things we couldn't do so their support is great.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Everyone is getting faster and if you want to compete with other companies then you have to bring services to your customers that are at the level of the other companies. ACI is a way of doing things faster by automating. That's the reason why we have it in our company. We chose Cisco because it was based on certain conditions that had to be met, and of course, also because of the price. It was the best product in terms of price and what comes with it.

How was the initial setup?

At first, the setup was really complex because we did everything with the GUI first. We had to figure out how to do that and it was frustrating because we had a lot of errors which didn't really tell us anything because we're used to other kinds of messages from the old school networking. That was kind of frustrating but then once we got it, it got easier. Now, there are new challenges that we are facing when we want to do certain configurations but it totally gets better with the help of online communities.

What about the implementation team?

We have someone coming from Cisco once a week. We ask him questions and he helps us integrate this new technology in our company.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it an eight out of ten. Not a ten because of the error messages. In order to get to a ten, they need to have a better way of telling if something is really important. They shouldn't have the message in the same window or in the same menu, they should be separated. The guys who looks at it should be able to tell really fast if it's a problem they have to look at right away or if it has time. Also, they should have the option to delete the messages if you acknowledge them and don't want to see them anymore. 

Advice I would give to someone considering this solution would be don't be too frustrated about trying to do certain things because it needs time and you need to learn the GUI and what it does in the background. Take the time and ask the community or ask a Cisco employee to help you integrate and then with time it will get better.  

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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