Cisco ACI Review

Reduces complexity and the time required to grow or change our network infrastructure


What is our primary use case?

We use this solution to implement a network overlay. We have a software-defined network in our data center.

How has it helped my organization?

Prior to ACI, a network upgrade or network change would be much more complex than it is now. Reducing complexity means that it is faster to make changes.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is programmability, where we can manage a network via APIs and software, as opposed to having to manage complex hardware.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see a lot more integrations with the rest of the Cisco portfolio. I would like to have ACI embedded into HyperFlex, as an example.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very stable now, although it has had hiccups, for sure.

Most of the early struggles with ACI were not that it would go down. Rather, it was more the stability of the management platform, which has improved a lot over time.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a highly scalable solution, and we are running it in some really large environments. We have ACI installed in data centers that have more than one hundred leaps, which is thousands of servers.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support for this solution is pretty good.

We've had a few incidents with environment reliability, but getting to the right engineering teams hasn't been difficult.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

Our previous solution was legacy, three-tier networking. The market is changing, and software-defined networking is becoming the way to do business. Our network was the last piece to keep up, so it needed investment.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is pretty complex.

The complexity comes about when you migrate from legacy networks into an ACI network. It's a complex process and there aren't tools that make it easy. usually, you're going to build ACI almost band new. Managing it is not complex, but building it is.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the implementation in-house.

What was our ROI?

ROI would be hard to quantify, but it would come from a network with less downtime, less complexity in changes, and one that is easier to manage.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated solutions from Cisco, VMware, and HP. Cisco's solution, from a software perspective, may be slightly behind, but from a hardware perspective, it's the most scalable and best to support.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to anybody researching this solution is that you have to test it. You can't take the stats on paper. Rather, you have to actually do the R&D to see it in a real environment. I think a lot of people make the mistake of looking at the features on paper, without actually testing the full functionality.

This is a really strong product. It has been complex, but most of their recent advancements have been in simplification.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

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