Cisco ACI Review

Provides a lot of intuitive data to know how our application stack is performing

What is our primary use case?

We are transforming from an old legacy, non-Cisco network to a state-of-the-art data center.
Cisco ACI is reducing a lot of competence on the network. We are reducing a lot of assets, a footprint itself. It has one single pane of glass management. We use it to support our clients.

How has it helped my organization?

The efficiency in terms of the data center latency has been reduced by around 20-30%. Our applications function a lot better. We get a lot of intuitive data to know how our application stack is performing. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is the single pane of management. You can have various API integrations and you can have software-defined scripts.

Cisco ACI can build things for you which was not possible on legacy networks. 

What needs improvement?

The additional features I would like to see included in the next releases are support for our policy-based routing. There are endpoint issues that are there now in the code. Hopefully, these will get fixed in the future code. 

In terms of scriptings, there are a lot of APIs available but there's a big gap with networking and the application. That's a gap that we're trying to bridge to understand how to do scripting. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it about a year and a half.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, the stability has been good. There have been a lot of updates going in and things are getting a lot better.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Cisco ACI is very scalable. There's no real length to it. If you look at ACI, you can have an endless number of layers. 

The size of our environment is about 2,000 nodes. It's not a huge network, it's pretty medium-sized.

How are customer service and technical support?

We use technical support for this product. We have our internal support team also. If we have additional feedback needed, we go back to Cisco. We are Cisco partners. Our experience with their support has been very good. I can communicate directly with certain BUs. 

We have been able to communicate with Cisco directly on certain questions. There are issues which have been very easy to resolve.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. It is not complex at all. It is plug-and-play. Then you add more switches into the network and you don't need to configure anything. 

What was our ROI?

We have not yet seen the ROI. We are in a transformation journey right now where you can clearly see how that is happening.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We have the smart licensing, but that was supported when we bought ACI. Smart licensing was not there previously. Recently, we migrated to the new code.

We had to convert to smart licensing. Licensing is for the overall number of nodes. We have a license for all 1,000 nodes right now.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this product at an 8 to leave a little bit of room for improvement.

I would advise someone considering this solution to do your homework. If you are trying to consolidate your data center, Cisco  ACI is probably the best product out there.

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