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Cisco ACI OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Cisco ACI is #2 ranked solution in top Network Virtualization tools. IT Central Station users give Cisco ACI an average rating of 8 out of 10. Cisco ACI is most commonly compared to VMware NSX:Cisco ACI vs VMware NSX. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a comms service provider, accounting for 38% of all views.
What is Cisco ACI?
Cisco Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) reduces TCO, automates IT tasks, and accelerates data center application deployments. It accomplishes this using a business-relevant Software Defined Networking (SDN) policy model across networks, servers, storage, security, and services.
Cisco ACI Buyer's Guide

Download the Cisco ACI Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

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Archived Cisco ACI Reviews (more than two years old)

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Byron Hooper
Senior Network Engineer at a insurance company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Our data center backbone that enables us to segment out everything and get more visibility into our virtual environment

Pros and Cons

  • "The features we find most valuable is the integration with the virtual switches of our UCS platform."
  • "The initial setup was fairly complex and it looks terrifying when you first log in. That's one thing about ACI. It takes a bit to wrap your mind around how it works. It's not overly complicated once you understand the concepts, but someone who has never worked with anything like ACI, will initially find it difficult to grasp the complexity of it."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is to use it as our data center backbone. We've got multiple tenants built on it in a network-centric design. We have our Dev\QA Tenant, User Acceptance Tenant, Production Tenant, DMZ, and then UserEdge, where everything basically comes in and goes out. We have Firepower firewalls in-between, but we're basically using Cisco ACI to microsegment between the networks within the tenants. But intra-tenant traffic goes through the firewalls. 

How has it helped my organization?

Before we started using Cisco ACI, everything was essentially flat open access. By using ACI, we're able to segment out everything and get more visibility into our virtual environment. We are basically 99.99% virtual at our data center. There are many features we haven't even started using, but we will get there. 

What is most valuable?

The features we find most valuable is the integration with the virtual switches of our UCS platform. It gives a lot of visibility right from the ACI console, the ability to channel out the traffic and segment it without having to get into separate physical hardware or trying to figure out VDCs manually. So far that's been really powerful and extremely useful for us.

What needs improvement?

I think there are a lot of additional features that we haven't had a chance to look at yet, but I would like to see a simpler interface where it is easy to find endpoints and get information about them. Making it more user-friendly would be wonderful. That is my main concern. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been good so far. We've got a big project to start doing upgrades on it. But it's been very stable and functioning properly. We haven't really had any issues with it as long as I've been here at the company. I'm sure there were some issues during deployment cause that was before my time. But it's been very stable for me.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, we haven't grown the deployment yet and we are nowhere near capacity. But it seems like it is relatively scalable in terms of what we could use. It's a matter of what do we need. I just haven't had the opportunity to increase the scale of what we have right now.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was fairly complex and it looks terrifying when you first log in. That's one thing about ACI. It takes a bit to wrap your mind around how it works. It's not overly complicated once you understand the concepts, but someone who has never worked with anything like ACI, will initially find it difficult to grasp the complexity of it.

What about the implementation team?

We've used a couple of consultants over the last few years. I believe it was BT that helped us with the initial setup, and we're working with Presidio on the upgrade project. As far as I know, the technical support from BT was great. And the people at Presidio know their stuff, they seem to have good plans for where they're going with it. They put together a concrete plan rather than just saying, "Oh, let's just go for it."

What was our ROI?

I believe there is an ROI. We've been able to streamline our processes dramatically because of the way the new architecture works. So while it was a large investment, I believe that it had a big impact on the general productivity of our systems.

What other advice do I have?

Not many people up in the northeast are familiar with Cisco ACI. It's kind of new and scary, so a lot of people are a little wary of it. Now that I've worked on it for a while, I find it very powerful. Getting direct access into the virtual switches is a huge advantage. I'm not the kind of person who rates nines and tens under many circumstances. So I rate this solution an eight out of ten.

My advice to others would be to take a good long look at it. It's great for segmenting your network and doing a little micro-segmentation in your data center. If you're familiar with the Nexus OS and the Nexus hardware platform, you will find that this is the same hardware platform as you would use in a Nexus OS deployment. Also, make sure you get a lot of training as part of your deployment. That would probably be my biggest piece of advice. Make sure that you get educated on how it works and why it was designed the way it was, or what the best practice design is if you're designing it on your own.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ML
Network Engineer at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Gives us a genuine single pane of glass to look through to manage all of our devices

Pros and Cons

  • "Centralized management and control of the entire data center environment and its architecture."
  • "We're still in the process of doing the migration. We haven't migrated completely all of our applications out of our legacy into it yet. It was challenging at first, but getting easier now that we're starting to get into it."

What is our primary use case?

It is an upgrade from our previous data center technology.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution has allowed us to redesign our data center environment into more of a zone-based network where we can section off areas. It definitely gives us a lot more security and control in our data center.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is that we have centralized management and control of pretty much the entire data center and the architecture of it. It gives us a genuine single pane of glass to look through to manage all of our devices.

We're still in the process of doing the migration. We haven't migrated completely all of our applications out of our legacy into it yet. It was challenging at first, but getting easier now that we're starting to get into it.

What needs improvement?

I haven't been using the product long enough to really be looking for additional features as I haven't exhausted learning about the features that are available.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability seems great. It's stable so far and we haven't run into too many issues at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the product seems great. It doesn't seem to have too many limitations if you want to scale out. We haven't run into any issues yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been pretty good. I haven't worked with them too much with the ACI stuff, but some of my coworkers have and they said they've had good support experiences.

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

I wasn't there for the driving factor behind the switch because I started when it was already being implemented. However, the company was already using Cisco before implementing Cisco ACI. The previous environment was an older version of the data center — 9Ks and 5Ks. Migrating over to the more centralized management of the newer ACI just makes sense.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't there for the initial setup, so I can't really comment on the initial setup. The only thing I can say is that the setup seems to be an ongoing process.

What about the implementation team?

We had a consultant company help us deploy and it was a good experience.

What was our ROI?

We're still in the process of implementing the product, so I don't know if I'd be able to tell about an actual ROI already or define what that is.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I don't think there were considerations of any other products when we went to upgrade as it was just an upgrade from the previous architecture.

What other advice do I have?

In rating the product, I'd give it an eight out of ten. It is a pretty stable product and gives us really good central management structure.

It was challenging at first, but getting easier now that we're starting to get into it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about Cisco ACI. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
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NP
Network Engineer at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Helps us drive consistent ACI policies and operational best practices to our cloud instances

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature of Cisco ACI is that it is eay to manage. We can automate and it can be scripted. Virtual ACI is very good."
  • "They should make it easier for the network people to do automated solutions."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for Cisco ACI is to connect data center devices. 

How has it helped my organization?

It helps us to drive consistent ACI policies and operational best practices to our cloud instances.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of Cisco ACI is that it is easy to manage. We can automate and it can be scripted. Virtual ACI is very good.

What needs improvement?

They should make it easier for the network people to do automated solutions. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. We don't have any complaints.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of Cisco ACI is good so far.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would give their technical support an eight out of ten.

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

We used Nexus 7000, 5000, and 2000 previously. The future is going to be on the data center.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of the Cisco ACI platform is a little complex. The migration was a little tough in the beginning but once we got it, it wasn't so hard. 

What about the implementation team?

We used a consultant for the deployment. Our experience with the consultant was good.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We always use Cisco. They are our main vendor. We didn't have any competition to compare. 

What other advice do I have?

On a scale from 1-10, I would rate this product an eight. It's not 100% accurate yet.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
SS
Senior Network Engineer at a pharma/biotech company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Modern and easy to configure but it needs a type of way to baseline the system in a network-centric fashion

Pros and Cons

  • "With ACI, if you need more capacity you can just buy more and plug them in without needing to do anything else. All of the sudden that infrastructure is there for me to use, configure, and add stuff to."
  • "In terms of improvement, I would like to see some sort of way to baseline the system in a network-centric fashion."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for the data center. 

How has it helped my organization?

We're just starting to deploy it. We literally just bought it and we're getting ready to start. 

What is most valuable?

The fact that it's modern and that it's easy to configure are the two most valuable features. 

What needs improvement?

In terms of improvement, I would like to see some sort of way to baseline the system in a network-centric fashion. The way ACI works is that it is very application-centric but I think that a lot of people who I have spoken to that use it don't need all that application-centric focus. Cisco says you can do a network-centric approach but I want to do network-centric in my design and then have the system organize and set itself that way. That would be cool. I would like to see that. If you as the customer want a network-centric design, after you build that initial configuration and you go into the GUI for the first time and you decide which direction you want it to go in and you point it in a certain direction, then it builds out the infrastructure to accommodate that, that would be beautiful.

They are selling the system as application-centric. I think a lot of people, ourselves included, are not ready to approach it in that way. It's too many knobs to turn. It's great overall architecture, scalability-wise, has an easy configuration, central configuration, but there are too many knobs to turn.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The early versions of the code were buggy but now, they've gotten better. The code a year ago wasn't so great. Now, it's much cleaner and more stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is definitely something that we are looking at and that's one of the attractive features of ACI for us. It's one configuration interface and if you want to add more interface you just buy more gear and plug it in. It's almost a plug and play solution. We just don't know how our business is going to grow and change over time. We can buy and implement something today and they can come and say that they are doing an acquisition or some sort of growth or new business venture and we need more capacity in the data center. With ACI, if you need more capacity you can just buy more and plug them in without needing to do anything else. All of the sudden that infrastructure is there for me to use, configure, and add stuff to.

How are customer service and technical support?

We use professional services for the design configuration. 

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

Our investment reason was purely due to the depreciation of the existing infrastructure. We needed to get rid of the old infrastructure and we had to make a choice. We needed to decide if we were going to use 9000 or if we were going to switch to ACI. We ended up deciding to go both ways. We're going to do some stuff with the traditional 9000 and we're going to do other stuff inside ACI and so it's going to be a hybrid.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is pretty straightforward. Because it's a plug-and-play type of solution; you can take it out of the box, you can start just connecting wires, and then have it go from the infrastructure. Once the system is there then it becomes complicated. ACI is not simple by any stretch of the imagination, but the initial go-at-it is pretty straightforward, which is nice.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator for the deployment. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We're a Cisco shop so we weren't going to another avenue. We already have our partner for purchasing, all these relationships were established so it wasn't really much to choose in that regard. It was more of a design decision, 9000 or ACI. Originally, we said all ACI but then as we started really getting into the design and having deep conversations with our Cisco account team and the Advanced Services Team, they told us it makes sense to do some 9000 and leave some things as ACI. This is the route we're taking. 

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten. I would really love that network-centric philosophy of configuration to be a little bit easier to do and the learning curve is steep. Being somebody who has been working with traditional Cisco IOS this is not bad at all. This is a complete rewrite of everything that you ever thought of from the networking standpoint.

The advice I would give to someone considering this solution is that you have to look at your data center. You have to look at your infrastructure. Not only that but you also have to look at the operational and support teams that are going to support this thing because if you have people that are familiar with the traditional way of the doing Cisco and have never touched ACI, then you're going to have a huge learning curve for your operational team to ramp them up and get them educated. That's definitely a factor. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
MW
Assistant Director IT at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Has the ability to do segmentation without running everything through a firewall but it is lacking integration with Tetration

Pros and Cons

  • "This product improved the way our company functions by enabling us to establish our goal of moving to a zero-trust model. That's how Cisco ACI helps us the most."
  • "It's a very complex system, as it should be. It's a new way of thinking about networking. Cisco ACI adds complexity. Cisco ACI is extremely complex. That's not necessarily a complaint, as much as it is a fact."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case for ACI in our company is to do data center segmentation to move our network to a zero-trust model. 

How has it helped my organization?

This product improved the way our company functions by enabling us to establish our goal of moving to a zero-trust model. That's how Cisco ACI helps us the most.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature at this stage is that it can do segmentation without running everything through a firewall. You're able to do segmentation without having firewalls in the middle of all your connections. It is extendable to other data centers. You can extend your Layer 2 VLANs over Layer 3, using VXLAN.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see integration with Tetration. You should be able to use Tetration to manage your scripts and push into ACI without having to export, manually manipulate, script it, and then re-import back in ACI. It needs automation there.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been very stable. Upgrades have been very easy. We have no real complaints about the stability of the Cisco ACI platform.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is great. You get more capacity. You can extend it to another data center remotely. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support for this solution is great. We bought support and it's been going well. 

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

We knew we needed to switch to another solution because of security concerns. We needed a zero-trust model. 

How was the initial setup?

For our migration approach, we did a very quick migration into it in a network-centric mode. We're starting to move into application-centered mode now. We're still in the migration period.

The initial setup was very complex. It's just a new technology platform. Nobody had training on it. Nobody knew what it was on my team. That makes it complex. 

It's a very complex system, as it should be. It's a new way of thinking about networking. Cisco ACI adds complexity. Cisco ACI is extremely complex. That's not necessarily a complaint, as much as it is a fact.

What about the implementation team?

To deploy Cisco ACI, we used Advanced Services. Our experience with them was fifty-fifty. It's still so new in Cisco that it was difficult for them. We deployed Tetration at the same time and there were a lot of issues there. The engineer they put on the project was great. 

What other advice do I have?

On a scale of one to ten, I would rate this product at a seven. It would be a lot higher, but it should have the ability to integrate with Tetration, as was marketed to us. It was a huge downfall for us when they decided not to do that right now. 

I advise anyone to get training before you implement Cisco ACI.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
AD
IT Networker Engineer at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Enables us to provision switches in hours as opposed to days

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features are the automation with the different systems for the software development and the ability to provision switches in hours rather than days."
  • "The initial set up was complex. We had to deploy 120 leads. Migrating from Legacy Cisco network to ACI was complex."

How has it helped my organization?

It has helped to improve our organization in the automation front. We integrated it with vCenter and Microsoft Hyper-V. 

Currently, we are not on the cloud. We have a private cloud deployment.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the automation with the different systems for the software development and the ability to provision switches in hours rather than days.

Automation is the main criteria why we chose to go with this solution.

What needs improvement?

Cisco ACI needs to add more analytics and automation. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable but we have faced some problems with troubleshooting. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There are no issues with scalability. We can easily scale. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The solution's technical support is good. They help us with the operations. 

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

We decided to go with this product because the Cisco solution had hardware and software built-in. VMware is in the virtual world and so we went with the hardware and the software in the same box.

How was the initial setup?

The initial set up was complex. We had to deploy 120 leads. Migrating from Legacy Cisco network to ACI was complex. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at VMware. 

What other advice do I have?

On a scale from 1 to 10, I would rate Cisco ACI an eight. The reason is that troubleshooting has been a concern. When there is a problem, the downtime increases. 

Cisco ACI is a good product. If you're looking for automation, you should go for it. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
AH
Sr. IT System Administration at a government with 10,001+ employees
Real User
The Call Manager is useful, but pre-deployment technical support needs improvement

What is our primary use case?

We have purchased this solution for our network, but we have not deployed it yet.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of the solution is the Call Manager.

What needs improvement?

Technical support needs improvement. I can get stuck with a rep who will just have me scan the logs to look for the problem. I think that technical support tickets should be escalated sooner. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Pre-deployment

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I would rate the scalability about a ten.

How are customer service and technical support?

Sometimes I get stuck with somebody from technical support who does not…

What is our primary use case?

We have purchased this solution for our network, but we have not deployed it yet.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of the solution is the Call Manager.

What needs improvement?

Technical support needs improvement. I can get stuck with a rep who will just have me scan the logs to look for the problem. I think that technical support tickets should be escalated sooner. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Pre-deployment

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I would rate the scalability about a ten.

How are customer service and technical support?

Sometimes I get stuck with somebody from technical support who does not understand the problem. If they are having trouble then they need to get help with it more quickly.

What other advice do I have?

We are still in the pre-deployment stage of this solution.

The only complaint that I have so far is in regards to technical support.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
SP
Principal Engineer at a tech company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Helps me to visualize everything with a single click

What is our primary use case?

I worked with this solution in my lab to prepare it for deployment.

How has it helped my organization?

I don't use it at the organizational level, but in my lab, it has helped me to visualize everything in one click.

What is most valuable?

This solution is easy to configure, and it is done in an object-oriented manner.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see a smoother transition from existing systems. The configuration from what we had earlier, compared to ACI, is completely different. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is ok.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our deployment is very small, so I'm not the right guy to speak with about scalability.

How are

What is our primary use case?

I worked with this solution in my lab to prepare it for deployment.

How has it helped my organization?

I don't use it at the organizational level, but in my lab, it has helped me to visualize everything in one click.

What is most valuable?

This solution is easy to configure, and it is done in an object-oriented manner.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see a smoother transition from existing systems. The configuration from what we had earlier, compared to ACI, is completely different. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is ok.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our deployment is very small, so I'm not the right guy to speak with about scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not contacted technical support.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is not straightforward. We had our standard configuration running, but when we moved to ACI it was a completely different dimension. It was a slow migration, and you need to completely change the way you think about things. This took me about three months to completely understand.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented the solution in-house. I went through the specifications and documentation and then handled it myself.

What other advice do I have?

Things are moving towards the ACI model, so it is good to try out this next generation solution.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
DG
Director of Network and Security at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Reduces complexity and the time required to grow or change our network infrastructure

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is programmability, where we can manage a network via APIs and software, as opposed to having to manage complex hardware."
  • "I would like to see a lot more integrations with the rest of the Cisco portfolio."

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.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I 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.
JP
Senior Network Security Engineer at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
A faster solution than we had, but the setup is non-trivial and the monitoring could be improved

What is our primary use case?

This solution is used in our data center.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution is faster than what we had previously.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the data center communication.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more troubleshooting apps. There should be more and better SNMP monitoring.

For how long have I used the solution?

Six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is pretty good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, this solution is pretty good.

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

I was not involved in the process of selecting this solution. Rather, I performed the…

What is our primary use case?

This solution is used in our data center.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution is faster than what we had previously.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the data center communication.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more troubleshooting apps.

There should be more and better SNMP monitoring.

For how long have I used the solution?

Six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is pretty good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, this solution is pretty good.

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

I was not involved in the process of selecting this solution. Rather, I performed the setup.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is semi-difficult. There is a learning curve.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to anybody implementing this solution is to jump in with both feet!

This biggest thing that I learned when using this solution is T-Panel.

I would rate this solution a six out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
John Sweet
Network Manager at California Department of Corrections
Real User
A scalable solution that provides consistency and redundancy in our data centers

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features are the ease of setup for redundancy, as well as centralized control."
  • "The ability for us to figure out the traffic flows, to enable some of the more segmentation parts of it, is really tough with what is built into ACI."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution in our data centers. It is for connecting servers and increasing our bandwidth and resiliency.

How has it helped my organization?

Historically, we had four different computer rooms, and they were all configured differently.  When we went through the refresh and started using ACI, it was the first time that we had a consistent setup in all of our computer rooms.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the ease of setup for redundancy, as well as centralized control.

What needs improvement?

The ability for us to figure out the traffic flows, to enable some of the more segmentation parts of it, is really tough with what is built into ACI. It would be nice if it were part of it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is great. We love it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not hit the limit, so it's been very scalable for us. Redundancy has been great.

How are customer service and technical support?

We hired an employee who used to work for Cisco technical support, and this person has been much more useful than the Cisco tech, itself. Technical support has not always been what we had hoped for.

However, we've had a lot of on-site support with our advanced services, and they've been great.

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

We work on state budget cycles, and several years went by without any kind of refresh. What we had were disparate solutions that were failing, and didn't have the same kind of redundancy or configuration. As such, the users were having a terrible experience so we had to do something. We then looked at ACI and Cisco and positioned it such that it made a lot of sense for us.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is pretty straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented this solution in-house.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We considered Cisco, Juniper, and VMware. Cisco rose to the top because of the support. It wasn't just the sale; they were going to be around afterward. We have a relationship there, that we trust.

What other advice do I have?

Cisco is there for the long haul. It's been built by network people who understand the resiliency needs for network infrastructure. It's been reliable for us, as well as scalable. It can do our one-gig, ten-gig, forty-gig, hundred-gig, it can do it all, no matter if it's legacy or new.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PC
Sr. Voice Engineer at SGWS
Real User
A time-saver that allows us to work more efficiently

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use for this solution is centralization.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has improved the way we operate because it is a time-saver.

What is most valuable?

This solution allows you to do everything quicker and more efficiently.

What needs improvement?

The CLI needs to be improved.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This product is pretty stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is really good.

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

We did not use another solution prior to this one.

How was the initial setup?

Our setup is still in progress.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator to assist us.

What other

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use for this solution is centralization.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has improved the way we operate because it is a time-saver.

What is most valuable?

This solution allows you to do everything quicker and more efficiently.

What needs improvement?

The CLI needs to be improved.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This product is pretty stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is really good.

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

We did not use another solution prior to this one.

How was the initial setup?

Our setup is still in progress.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator to assist us.

What other advice do I have?

This is a solution that I would recommend.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Mark Hayden
Lead Network Engineer at a consultancy with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Has improved the static configuration of our data center switching environment, but it's hard to manage 

Pros and Cons

  • "It's improved the static configuration of our data center switching environment. But it's added some challenges to our ability to operationalize it and make it easier for people to manage."
  • "So far we've had very few issues, a couple of routing things that were glitches within ACI."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case for Cisco ACI is for managing our data center and network switches. We will use it for the whole data center environment eventually.

How has it helped my organization?

We are still growing it in our main data center. We haven't even expanded it to our recovery data center yet. As far as managing a static environment, so far, it's been great. When it comes to adding in new changes and new things, that's where we're going to have some challenges. Cisco ACI is difficult both technically to build it out and then operationally to manage.

It's improved the static configuration of our data center switching environment. But it's added some challenges to our ability to operationalize it and make it easier for people to manage. 

What is most valuable?

The good side of it is being able to control your network switching and routing in the data center from a single control point.

What needs improvement?

I don't have any new features that I need in Cisco ACI yet because we're still learning and making it work in our environment today. I don't have anything new. 

The one big challenge with it is Cisco going from a perpetual license model to a licensing model that is renewed every year. You pay a large fee to use stuff like this. That to me is one of our challenges.

Making training more available for all of our employees and not even at a cost would help. If you want this to be deployed to all the data centers everywhere it's got to be something that everyone can sit down and get training on. 

If you're going to try and operationalize it amongst existing staff members and even up-coming ones, it's not a simple thing to sit down and learn. 

I've been doing this for thirty-five years now. It's one of the most difficult things I've had to sit down and learn myself.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

With the stability so far we've had very few issues with Cisco ACI. A couple of routing problems that were glitches within ACI. Other than that, the environment is stable and we like it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is great in a Cisco ACI environment. But when you're migrating from an old data center into ACI, there are some challenges. 

In all the people that manage it, most are just trying to throw entire networks with multiple environments on them into ACI. It's good but it also has a lot of challenges for us.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good but limited because Cisco ACI is so new. There's a lack of expertise on the support side. You need to get the right engineer on the call when you're having a problem.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of the Cisco ACI is straightforward but also complex. Once you have designed how you're going to deploy it, i.e. your naming conventions and how you're going to configure things, it is standardized. 

That part of it is standard and easy to deploy. It's coming to that point where you've got the complexity of your naming conventions and all those things stood up properly that is hard.

It's only this engineer that we hired with a great mind who could make it work for us.

What about the implementation team?

We relied on an engineer who we hired on a contract side but was well versed in a lot of things. He had not done an ACI in deployment. Between him and our dedicated Cisco support engineers, we were able to stand it up without too many issues.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The number one reason we chose it was that eventually, we will doing some sort of SD (Software Defined) access. When a user gets on the network and they connect, they'll have a persona. We'll know who they are. We'll know what to allow them into. A lot of that'll be controlled through ACI on the data center side.

We didn't have SD access. We're still going in that direction. It's going to be a while.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale of one to ten, I would rate this product in the five to six range. It is a good product. It will be solid as it matures. It's technically challenging for anyone.

One guy has stood up most of our environment. We are trying to use him to train all the rest of our staff. But it's a slow process. 

Understanding how to get in under the hood and make ACI work is not a simple task unless you're in and out of it regularly. Even the gentleman who installed it and works on it most of the time has to go back and play with it on his own before he makes changes. 

Just to remember how things are done is difficult because it's got a lot of uniqueness to it in the way things are deployed.

Anyone using Cisco ACI should know what their direction is. How much money do they have to spend? Then I could sit down with them and tell them whether ACI would the best solution or not for what they are doing. 

I don't think ACI is for everyone. It's for larger data centers that are going down this path of SD access. I am sure there are competitors out there now. We're just not looking into them because we already have ACI deployed. That where we're at now.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Dinesh Thathanath
Sr Manager at Cognizant
Real User
Provides a lot of intuitive data to know how our application stack is performing

Pros and Cons

  • "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."
  • "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."

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.
BE
Network Manager at a university with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Integration with vCenter saves us time and effort

Pros and Cons

  • "The integration with vCenter means that when I create something on the network, it only has to happen one time instead of many times for our many virtual hosts."
  • "There should be an alternative "ACI Light" solution for smaller-sized enterprises."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for our data center infrastructure. We are a small, private university, supporting a mix of cloud and on-premise applications.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution saves us time. The integration with vCenter means that when I create something on the network, it only has to happen one time instead of many times for our many virtual hosts.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the integration with vCenter, as it makes it easier for the systems and network to interoperate.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see simpler contract building, engineering, and architecture.

There should be an alternative "ACI Light" solution for smaller-sized enterprises.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution has been very solid. We've had no problems in the three years that we have been using it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't really grown or changed the network since this solution was installed, so I cannot comment on scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support for this solution is great. The ACI guys have been some of the best technical support people that I've worked with at Cisco. They just seem to know things better than the other groups within their support infrastructure. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is complex. Our environment is not very complex, but the product itself is very complex. It takes a lot of steps to configure.

What about the implementation team?

We used a partner that Cisco recommended to assist us with the implementation. 

We were one of the first implementations, and I think we were used at the lab during our installation. Some of the things that you learn over time were not known, so it could have been done better.

What was our ROI?

We have seen partial ROI. However, that is probably more our fault than the product's fault because we haven't leveraged the tools that are there.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Three years ago when we were starting with this process, the industry said that software defined networking was the way we had to go. At the time, this is the only solution that was available.

I was one of the proponents of this solution.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody considering this solution is to really look at the size of your organization. Ours is kind of in the middle in terms of size, between large and small. So, ACI may be a little bit of overkill for the size of the shop that we have. If you have a large organization then it's a good product. If, on the other hand, you are a little shop, it is probably more than you need.

This is a good solution, but no product is perfect.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
EG
Network Engineer at a hospitality company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Offers valuable unified fabric features and has good customer service

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the unified fabric."
  • "More how-to videos and instructional information is required."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for the Cisco ACI solution is the data center.

How has it helped my organization?

This product has improved our organization through automation.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the unified fabric.

What needs improvement?

I recommend to customers that they meet a knowledgeable vendor to help them with it.

How are customer service and technical support?

Cisco ACI customer service is very good.

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

Cisco ACI was sold to us. Everybody is using it now.

How was the initial setup?

With the initial setup of Cisco ACI, it is new, so you need to make sure issues pop up. You have to work through those issues. I would like to see included how-to videos.

What about the implementation team?

We went with a consultant, i.e. a third party vendor: HCL. They're very good.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Arista was one of the main alternatives that we evaluated.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale of one to 10, I would rate this product at an eight based on everybody else's experiences. It's pretty good. I don't have a full review.

More how-to videos and instructional information is required. We need to simplify it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
GC
Data Center Implementation Engineer at a consultancy with 1-10 employees
Real User
Our clients can implement one tool and have a unified visual picture of the health of the network

Pros and Cons

  • "In a very general way, the ease of access, ease of use, and ease of connecting the system is a valuable feature in itself. The solution doesn't really increase detection rates as that is not what it was created for. Threat prevention comes in from other devices that might be connected into the Cisco ACI that monitors external traffic. It maintains what end-of-life products would be doing and offers other opportunities to unify solutions."
  • "Figuring out how to implement the product for clients is the area we struggle with the most every day. Perhaps an enhancement would be artificially intelligent solutions, but that would be further down the road."

What is our primary use case?

We implement customized Cisco ACI for our clients as a networking solution for a variety of purposes.

How has it helped my organization?

My organization specifically implements Cisco ACI for other companies, so the product is basically our business model.

For clients, a visible GUI dashboard provides a unified view of the network. In order to do that before, clients may have had to implement multiple tools depending on the structure of the network. Now they can implement one tool and have a unified visual picture of the health of the network.

What is most valuable?

In a very general way, the ease of access, ease of use, and ease of connecting the system is a valuable feature in itself. The solution doesn't really increase detection rates as that is not what it was created for. Threat prevention comes from other devices that might be connected to the Cisco ACI that monitors external traffic. The ACI solution maintains what end-of-life products would be doing and offers other opportunities to unify solutions.

What needs improvement?

There has not been a single implementation we have done where the client wants to use all the features that are in the product currently. Contemplating new features seems out of order. Every product can benefit from new features as long as they are desired and add functionality that is useful. Most of the features that are there now are good and Cisco is doing a really good job at staying ahead of the curve with their competition. They are implementing new features before companies are even ready to use them or know that there might be a need for them.

Figuring out how to implement the product for clients is the area we struggle with the most every day. Perhaps an enhancement would be artificially intelligent solutions, but that would be further down the road.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product itself is very stable. As long as it is deployed with care and solid core objects it will remain stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is extremely scalable in ways that pure hardware solutions were incapable of.

How are customer service and technical support?

I think the customer service is really good. I call Cisco any time and I can usually get someone to help me with whatever I need at whatever time I call.

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

A portion of Cisco's equipment is going end-of-life. Most of the companies that we implement for are using Cisco Nexus 7K, 5K, 2K so they have 752 implementations and some of their 7K's are going end-of-life. The newer equipment that's becoming available is cheaper. Sometimes Cisco will essentially give it away.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup can be straightforward or complex depending on who you're implementing the solution for and what they want to do with it. If the client's network is extremely complex, they have a lot of different things that can bring information into and out of their network. Implementation can become significantly more complex as there is more to consider. If the client's network is really simple, then the deployment is straightforward.

We do sometimes experience some issues with integration and in trying to satisfy some of the things that the client wants to do. There are some hidden issues that don't surface until you implement the solution in the network. Some of the issues are client-facing where the client causes the issues. In other words, the issues are not necessarily a problem with the system.

You still have to spend time to try to go through everything and make it work optimally. When you are implementing new features, there's almost always a learning curve if the features are not performing with objects that have already been built.

What about the implementation team?

We are the integrator and reseller, so the implementation is always excellent and the expertise is superior.

What was our ROI?

I think it has a fairly good time to value. While it takes time to implement, once it's implemented the ability to make changes and adopt new functionality to the system becomes very easy. That saves more money over time because changes are implemented using fewer internal resources.

I've seen some ROI for clients. Clients don't normally share that information with me, but I see how clients have benefited from implemented ACI and how the speed of implementing changes on their network improves over time. The ability to quickly make changes in the network is the biggest benefit that I've seen.

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

We don't license the products ourselves. The clients that we implement for also license it with Cisco.

As it stands right now, the licensing structure hasn't been fully fleshed out for ACI. So, if Cisco hasn't fully fleshed it out, I'm not sure what the cost is going to be yet.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate the solution as a nine out of ten. It is a great product, but there are issues with it. It's not perfect and it would have to be to get a ten. The issues that are there are easily mitigated but that also requires effort.

The analytics are pretty good. The built-in dashboard essentially provides analytics out of the box. There are other plug-ins that you can use to make the solution work better for you as a company. You have the option of developing other tools and utilities to use with it because it's an API.

When you are first building the system, it takes longer because you have to build all the objects that you expect to reuse. But because you're building reusable objects it makes adding other functionality easier because of the simple fact that you've already built those reusable objects. When you're doing new things it gets easier.

I think one thing that most people do is avoid reading manuals for anything. Read, read, read and consider doing research. Not all the information you find will be good, but you will discover things you don't know.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Dash Brousseau
Network Engineer at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Offers a simple dashboard that can connect all of my devices

Pros and Cons

    • "My complaint about this is: We purchased the ACI gear, but to do monitoring, to do stats, to do telemetry statistics, etc. we have to purchase another product from Cisco."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case for Cisco ACI in our company is to have a central point to manage our network and to do API automation. Those are the two main focuses to automate.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Currently, we're still doing a POC on Cisco ACI. We haven't made the transition. It's a huge jump from what we currently have in our network to the ACI. We're still evaluating it. 

    We've already purchased the gear, but we still need more training. We already purchased all the hardware for the production environment. 

    We want to keep on training before we make the migration phase.

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable feature of the solution is having a central point to log in. I have a simple dashboard that has all my devices connected. That is what I'm looking for.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    For stability, it seems fine. I have no complaints about that.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It's easy to keep adding. You have a set where you just add another leaf to your ACI fabric. 

    I can scale quite easily. Just add another leaf to my ACI fabric. It seems straightforward.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I've not used the technical support. I've been working with our Cisco reps and a few professional service providers. They are amazing, number one. 

    Their main office is walking distance from my company's office. I can just walk over and complain. It's good having face-to-face relationships.

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

    We are a Cisco shop. Right now, SDN is a buzzword. The next evolution for our company is to have an SDN network. Since we're a Cisco shop, it's ACI.

    We've been a Cisco shop since day one.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is not straightforward at all. Cisco just released a document that tells you how to set it up, but before that, it was overwhelming. 

    To set up, Cisco ACI takes months. There are so many features and you're too scared. They did release a pdf that shows you a step through, i.e. how to set up your ACI fabric. Before that, there's just bare-bones information for something so expensive. It was kind of funny. They just released it.

    My complaint about this is: We purchased the ACI gear, but to do monitoring, to do stats, to do telemetry statistics, etc. we have to purchase another product from Cisco. 

    I would ask from Cisco when we purchase the hardware if some of these features could be built in the purchase. Now I'm dissatisfied that I have to purchase this to do basic monitoring. It should all be built in.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We did not evaluate other options because we'd have to reevaluate what we currently use for Cisco. None of our staff is trained for anything but Cisco. Cisco was the only product we looked at.

    What other advice do I have?

    On a scale of one to ten, I would rate Cisco ACI with a nine. Some of the features should be built in. If you think you know ACI, you don't. Get more training.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    TM
    Infrastructure Engineer at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
    Real User
    An easier way to manage segmentation and optimize existing hardware

    Pros and Cons

    • "Cisco ACI can separate networks with a buoy interface. That is the most valuable feature."
    • "I wish that if I had to open up an additional tab, I wouldn't have to log in every single time."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use for Cisco ACI is to separate networks that don't want to talk to each other except for set work.

    How has it helped my organization?

    We are setting up a whole dev environment. Some of us are purchasing separate hardware. We can optimize our existing hardware by realizing ACI.

    What is most valuable?

    Cisco ACI can separate networks with a buoy interface. That is the most valuable feature.

    What needs improvement?

    I wish that if I had to open up an additional tab, I wouldn't have to log in every single time. That would be a feature I would like.

    For the licensing model of the system, I still have not gotten another update after eight months. It's telling me I'm not licensed even though I'm told I am by my reseller.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The stability of the solution looks good. The only roadblock is that it is a big change to Cisco networking.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The scalability of the solution I cannot rate at this time since I just started.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I haven't had to work with Cisco's tech support too much yet. I've been using professional services.

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup was in the middle. It was straightforward as to what we were doing. Since ACI is a new technology, we had to make sure we didn't start too far apart. I didn't want to break anything. That made it complex.

    What about the implementation team?

    We used two integrator reseller consultants for the deployment: SHI and BTA. Our experience with them so far is good. Next time, I would want to work with all of the professional services more together.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    I wanted an easier way to manage segmentation. Cisco offered this and this is also what the resellers were showing me as well. That this was going to be the future of the system. 

    Cisco was the main vendor that I chose. We were also looking at Juniper and HP, but they did not have a similar situation. It was kind of a no-brainer.

    What other advice do I have?

    On a scale of one to ten, I would rate Cisco ACI at eight.

    If you purchase Cisco ACI, make sure you understand exactly how you're going to put it in because it's not going to be easy to work with.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    JB
    Systems Network Manager at a non-tech company with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Easy to install and scale, but there is a steep learning curve attached

    Pros and Cons

    • "It is a complete re-write of everything that you've ever thought of from a networking standpoint."
    • "It would be nice if I could specify network-centric in my design, and the system would organize and set itself up in that way."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use for this solution is in our data center.

    What is most valuable?

    This is a modern, next-generation solution, and it is where the platform is going.

    I have been told that this is an easy solution to configure, but we are just starting to deploy it, so that is to be determined.

    What needs improvement?

    ACI is not simple, by any stretch of the imagination.

    We are not following the application-centric approach, but a network-centric approach instead. It would be nice if I could specify network-centric in my design, and the system would organize and set itself up in that way. Essentially, once you go into the GUI for the first time it would prompt you, and it would build out the infrastructure to accommodate your choice.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    Recently purchased.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    We have been in a lot of sessions with them and have done a lot of work with it in the lab. We've seen it grow over time. The early versions of the code were buggy and flakey, but as they have gone through newer iterations, we've seen it get better. It is at the point now where were are comfortable with it going into a production data center.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Scalability is definitely something that we're looking at, and it's one of the attractive features of ACI for us. It is easy to do.

    The way ACI works is it is one configuration interface. If you want to add more then you just plug it in. I would not call it plug-and-play, but they've made it to the point where it is very close. 

    This is important to us because we just don't know how our business is going to grow, and change, over time. It's a moving target for us. If we buy something today, and then there is a demand for more capacity in the data center, then we just have to buy more devices and plug them in. We don't have to do anything else. The infrastructure just becomes available for us to use. This differs considerably from the traditional Cisco, which involved a lot of command lines and configuration.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    We have not really dealt with technical support, yet. We are using the Cisco professional services to help us with the design and configuration.

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

    We were using the Cisco 9000 and we reached a point where investment was needed due to depreciation in our infrastructure. We needed to get rid of the old system, and then decide whether to stay with the Cisco 9000 or move to ACI. For us, we decided to employ a hybrid solution that uses both.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup of this solution is pretty straightforward. It is a plug-and-play type of solution where you can just take it out of the box and connect the wires.

    Once this system is in place then it becomes complicated. However, the initial go at it is pretty straightforward, which is nice.

    What about the implementation team?

    We are using Cisco professional services, as well as a VAR, to help us with the implementation. In order for us to go live, we have to make sure that our VAR is ready to support that.

    What was our ROI?

    It is too soon for us to realize ROI.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We're a Cisco shop, so we did not evaluate solutions from other vendors. We already have our partner for purchasing, and all of our relationships were already established. For us, it was simply a design decision between Cisco 9000 and ACI.

    What other advice do I have?

    We are currently testing this solution in a lab, preparing for our deployment into production.

    We are not ready to approach this solution in an application-centric way. It's a great overall architecture, good scalability-wise, easy to configure, and a central configuration, but there are too many knobs to turn.

    We were originally going to use ACI for everything. However, after we really started looking at the design and having conversations with our Cisco advanced services team, we saw that it made sense to use a hybrid solution.

    My advice for anybody interested in implementing this solution is to have a good look at your data center, your architecture, and importantly your operational and support team. If you have people who are familiar with the traditional way of doing Cisco, and have never touched ACI before, then there is a steep learning curve ahead. The operational team will have to ramp up and be educated. That was definitely a factor for us.

    We have a third party operational team, and we had to challenge them. We asked if it was something that they could do, and they needed to prove it to us, first. This was done before we even went into the solution. The number one thing is that you have to be able to support it. If you have only two people installing it, then you're not going to be able to run support 24/7 for when something breaks at three in the morning.

    This is a good solution, but I would really like to see the network-centric philosophy of configuration to be a little bit easier. The learning curve is steep. But, being somebody who has been traditional Cisco, iOS, and command line, I can say that this is completely different. It is a complete re-write of everything that you've ever thought of from a networking standpoint. It can simplify your life if you do it right.

    I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PaulIlavarasu Balasekar
    Technical Lead at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    The tenancy model means we don't need to buy a dedicated setup for each customer

    Pros and Cons

    • "The most valuable features include microsegmentation, L3 Out features, and the common tenant and tenancy model."
    • "For Multipod we need Layer 3 devices that support multicast. Customers ask: "Why can't ACI do that? Why do we need a dedicated Layer 3 device for this?" If they go for Multi-Site there is no need for that, ACI can do it. So Cisco needs to increase the Multipod features in ACI."

    What is our primary use case?

    I am an engineer who deploys ACI. Most of the deployments cover L2 Out and L3 Out and migrations.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Some of our cloud-based customers integrate it with UCS Director or CloudCenter and are able to automate services. ACI supports automation, like Ansible automation or HTTP automation. It adds stability for cloud-deployment use cases. Cloud-based businesses don't need to create policies. They can do so with an automation orchestration tool like UCS Director or CloudCenter. A few customers are using it this way.

    Some other customers are refreshing their data centers with SDN. They have a traditional data center but they want to restructure it. Cisco customers are now going for the Cisco SDN.

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable features include

    • microsegmentation
    • L3 Out features
    • the common tenant and tenancy model.

    Regarding microsegmentation, generally, in Layer 2, there are restrictions between VLANs. When you do microsegmentation, by name, by IP address, or MAC address, you can create a microsegmented EPG and you can group within an EPG. Generally, all the endpoints that are part of an EPG can talk to each other. But when you create a microsegmented EPG you are creating restrictions.

    Regarding the tenancy model, when you have a host data center and multiple customers and you want to build a dedicated infrastructure for a customer, you have to physically suppress the devices and you have to think a lot about security features. But with ACI, you don't need to buy a dedicated setup for each customer. Using one setup, you can create multiple tenants, and each tenant represents one customer. There are common services that are used by all the customers, like a DNS server or any web servers. You can keep the servers on the common tenant. In that way you can use the tenancy model efficiently.


    What needs improvement?

    They are still working on Multi-Site and Multipod but there are many customers that are looking for these in their Features page. 

    We are having challenges with these features. For Multipod we need Layer 3 devices that support multicast. Customers ask: "Why can't ACI do that? Why do we need a dedicated Layer 3 device for this?" If they go for Multi-Site there is no need for that, ACI can do it. So Cisco needs to increase the Multipod features in ACI.

    For one customer we found CloudCenter doesn't support Cisco Multi-Site scenarios.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    One to three years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I feel the stability is very good. We have had some issues but the support we get from Cisco is always good.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    In terms of scalability, you can go with the two-spine and get very good bandwidth, but if you need more than this you can increase the spine count. If you need more devices you can increase the leaf count. Scalability is there.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I have been a bit disappointed with technical support from Cisco. They will often take some time to respond. But once they start they are okay. I feel they need to improve their service.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is very straightforward. If you have some basic knowledge you will be able to deploy ACI. Some of the guys feel that it is a little complicated but if they understood tenancy more and the object structure, they would be easily able to deploy ACI.

    We can deploy everything in less than two days. The difficulty is that we are working in data centers so we need to look for downtime for the customers. If they are using automation we can deploy everything in a single day. If we are doing manual, it can take three or four days.

    But in real scenarios, customers cannot always give us downtime. They tell us to wait for some time and they do migration one by one.

    On my team, I am the only one who does deployment. We don't need anybody's help for migration. But we expect a few team members to be involved on the customer's side, people from the server team and the network team, because we need support from them.

    Maintenance is very easy. If there are two spines and you are doing an upgrade, you can shut down one spine and do the maintenance. Once that is done you bring up the one you shut down and do the second spine, and similarly for all leaves and all APICs. There is no impact to the server base and zero downtime.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would rate ACI at ten out of ten. I don't see any bad features in it. I always think about the positive side. I don't see any negativity on the ACI side. There are a lot of features, like automation, that reduce manual efforts that would otherwise be time-consuming.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
    Syed Ali Wajahat
    Sr Network and Security Consultant (SDN & Security) at a media company with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Provides integration with VMM domains and their L4 and L7 devices, like device packages for F5, Palo Alto, and ASA

    Pros and Cons

    • "We are doing automation from ACI and we have integration with Azure. With the Azure stack integration we can have total automation. We can configure the EPGs from there, and we can configure load balancing functionalities from there as well. The most useful feature is that you don't need to configure anything on ACI itself. You can configure on Azure and it will provision your application."
    • "Where there is room for improvement from ACI is for Layer 2 and Layer 7 packages. Normally, when you're updating your ACI fabric or you're introducing new Layer 4 to Layer 7 devices, there are some constraints, there are some limitations... When you are doing device packages you will not have the functionality of ASM. It's like WAF, web application firewalls. So you need to configure it manually."

    What is our primary use case?

    I'm in ACI operations and the current use for Cisco ACI is to host the entire server farm and all the applications which are hosted in our data center, here in Qatar, and also in different locations.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Normally, when you're configuring your core switches and your normal switching fabric, like Nexus or any of the HP platforms, you configure VLANs. If you're dividing a switch, you configure a virtual device contact. Instead of this, you have different tenants for your different environments, different segments. And you have automation on top of it if you are running virtualization domains. It removes the traditional networking configuration and gives you complete control over your switching fabric from one controller.

    Also, it has APIs. You can use REST APIs and you can have configuration already built in for your XML code or GSM files. You can push it using different tools like Postman. You can have different types of Python scripts and you can have these types of automation if you want to play with the API. It will provide faster provisioning of network and faster provisioning of your applications. 

    If you go for full automation, you can build your own tools. I have my own tools that I built in Python. If I want to configure EPG or interface, I configure some parameters on my script, it will push to ACI, and it will configure it.

    In terms of time saved, any new provisioning of services or new applications will take less than one minute on. I gave one IP to my system team to configure the IP on the application and tag the EPG on the application data. It was just a matter of tagging.

    What is most valuable?

    Among the valuable features are the integration with VMM domains and their Layer 4 and Layer 7 devices, like device packages for F5, Palo Alto, and ASA.

    We are also doing automation from ACI and we have integration with Azure. With the Azure stack integration we can have total automation. We can configure the EPGs from there, and we can configure load balancing functionalities from there as well. The most useful feature is that you don't need to configure anything on ACI itself. You can configure on Azure and it will provision your application. This is the highest level of automation in Microsoft.

    In the second level of integration, you create the EPGs and the gateways on ACI yourself. Then, it will be configured on a SCVMM and you tag the VLANs there. It removes the hassle of configuring code groups and VLAN tags on the VMM, the virtualization domain, on the virtualization platform. You configure within ACI, and it will be visible there. It removes the networking administrative part from the system side, and you have complete control there.

    You can also have microsegmentation. You can have isolation for a certain part of the EPGs.

    In addition, you have a complete fabric you can connect to and you can have a static binding all over the fabric. You don't need to configure specific VLANs or run different cables. All of switches are connected to the spine, so you have complete reachability all over the fabric. You can have multi-tenancy. You can have multiple fabric configurations for different types of connectivity. You would not have this on normal switching fabric.

    What needs improvement?

    Where there is room for improvement from ACI is for Layer 2 and Layer 7 packages. Normally, when you're updating your ACI fabric or you're introducing new Layer 4 to Layer 7 devices and there are some constraints, there are some limitations. You need to check before you do it, as well as F5 load balances. When you are doing device packages you will not have the functionality of ASM. It's like WAF, web application firewalls. So you need to configure it manually. There is some room for improvement here.

    The rest of it, for VMM domains, is improving. Cisco is introducing new features. I don't feel that it's unstable or it needs more improvement. But, for Layer 2 and Layer 7 packages, it still needs improvement. It needs quite a bit of work. 

    Currently, we are using it in our test lab for Layer 4 and Layer 7 services. We are not using it in production. We are using unmanaged Layer 4 and Layer 7 devices. We are not using complete device packages.

    I'm looking forward to something called Cisco Tetration. I have never worked on it but it's there now. It will map everything: What type of ports are communicated through between users and applications and between applications. It will map that on ACI automatically, at the ACI contracts level and the application level. It's like a big-data platform. It will understand the application. It will understand the port requirements, the security requirements, and it will perform some types of automation. Right now, ACI is lacking this. There's some intelligence within it but not much.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    More than five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's a very stable product in terms of switching fabric. It's quite reliable. It doesn't fail that much compared to other switching platforms. There are some things you need to be cautious of, like when you are configuring contracts. When you are configuring L4 and L7, you need to be aware of what type of configuration you're doing. Sometimes when you are configuring something which is third-party, not Cisco, you need to be aware of what the end result will be. So you need to do it in a test environment first, and then do it in production.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    In terms of scalability there is just one limitation. When you want the security rules and features to be applied on the application NIC level - on the virtual NIC level, on the network interface level, on the application itself, on the virtualization domain - you cannot do that. The application needs to reach via API so you can apply the security policy. Then the security policies will be applied and then it can talk to other applications. This is one thing that is missing on ACI. But you cannot say that it's actually missing because that's the overlay approach of SDN; it's not underlay like NSX.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Technical support is quite mature. It's not bad as before. I'm the one person who has been working with ACI for a long time. Most engineers only have experience two or three years of experience with ACI. I have experience with ACI when it started from version 1.1. I have used more or less all the OS's. In the beginning, support was quite bad, but now it has improved notably. They have good engineers for the VMM. They have separate departments for separate things.

    Response time is good, but it depends. If you are getting a call from the European or the American site the support is better. But if you get a call from the Indian site or from another site, it's not that mature yet.

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

    Currently, we don't have any other SDN solutions, but I have experience with SDN in NSX. I have certification in VCIX, VCIX-NSX, and NV - network virtualization - from VMware.

    The biggest difference is that NSX is running on compute. It's running on the hypervisor level. But ACI is running as an overlay, on a switching overlay fabric. This is the major difference. In NSX you can put policies closer to the application on the NIC level, but on ACI you have a constraint that you need to reach the fabric to have security policies apply.

    How was the initial setup?

    The last setup I did was a freelance project in Dubai for Emaar. I also did one of the biggest projects here in Qatar for our company. I did one extension project at Qatar University. I have also done some document evaluation and design evaluation for a project that didn't start because of some budget constraints. It's still not completed. They are still evaluating, but I did the design evaluation from the vendor side.

    In general, the setup is a little bit complex, but it will remove future complexity. In the beginning, for newcomers, for new engineers, it's a little complex. Even for me, when I was learning it, was a little bit harder for me because it doesn't have conventional switching. It's running multiple types of OS's inside the fabric, so that can cause a little bit of confusion. But, after some time, you will feel like it's more logical.

    The deployment time depends on how many leaves there are and how many fabric spine switches there are and on how many applications there are. If it's migration, it takes more time. If it's a greenfield project, it will not take that much time.

    I did one deployment that was a complete greenfield project. There was nothing there. There was no migration. They are building a new data center and it was a small setup. It had six switches and two small, baby spine switches. That took less than one month.

    Regarding implementation strategy there are two types of approaches. There is network-centric and there's object-oriented-centric. If it's network-centric, each VLAN has its own bridge domain. But if you have a complete application-centric approach, you have one BD for everything and you can configure multiple gateways there. You will specify contracts.

    The number of staff required for a deployment depends on the fabric, the leaves and spines. Deployment generally takes two or three guys. For the configuration, I'm the only one. I can do it, no problem. But for physical stacking and connectivity, it takes a number of people. For configuration, one person is more than enough.

    We have plans to increase usage. We are extending our fabric all the time because we started with 14 leaves and we now have around 24 leaves. We're also planning to implement it in our DR5. All over the Middle East, there is huge demand for ACI because Cisco is pushing this platform for core data centers.

    What was our ROI?

    It decreases network provisioning time and application provisioning time. It also takes fewer resources to manage it. You don't need a number of consultants to manage the ACI fabric because it's a centralized system. You will have one APIC controller which can manage more than 200 leaf switches. It depends on the APIC sizing. You can have multiple switches connected to it and you can manage it.

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

    If you compare the licensing and total cost of ACI, it's cheaper than NSX because of the licensing fees. If you are going for full NSX features it will be too expensive, especially the next-generation firewalling feature.

    What other advice do I have?

    If somebody is planning to implement ACI, it's mostly because they want their network to be centralized and they want their network to be more organized. They want more efficient provisioning of networking and applications. By implementing ACI they will need fewer resources and will have reduced operations costs. They will have more flexibility over the network. They can have multiple types of automation on their fabric, instead of using normal switching fabric.

    In terms of maintaining it, the operation is something else. It depends on the number of applications and their business criticality. You need to check if it's a 24-hour approach where you need two or three guys to have a rotation for shifts. Currently, we don't have shifts, and I'm the only one who is managing the ACI, but we have an on-call rotation. Sometimes I'm getting called, sometimes my colleagues are getting called and they are relaying the information to me. But as I built the fabric here, I set it up so that I don't need to come in urgently. Everything is redundant, everything is connected on a dual-switch basis. If one switch fails or there's a configuration issue, there will not be downtime.

    We have about 3,000 end users. It's our core. All the applications are hosted there.

    I would rate the solution at nine out of ten. I have very good experience with ACI. My major platform and my focus is on security and data centers. I'm pretty good with data center technology as it is one of my major points of focus. I have experience with different products, mostly Cisco security products, but I have had a good experience with ACI.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    DarrylG
    Technology Support Specialist at Fujitsu
    MSP
    Enables backing up and restoring of configurations, but Layer 3 Out policy is complex

    Pros and Cons

    • "One area where it has an advantage... is that you're able to reuse a specific integration. If you add another server, you can use a specific integration and assign it to another port."
    • "One of the things that makes it a lot more complicated is the way contracts are handled in ACI. Contracts are like their own access lists. They can improve the setting up of contracts between devices a lot. It can be simplified."

    What is our primary use case?

    We used it as a data center switch. The company - our client - that uses it uses Cisco HyperFlex and FlexPod both connected to Cisco ACI.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It has made it simpler and easier for non-Cisco personnel to come in and configure stuff because it is easier to understand, compared to when you configure Nexus using the CLI. Configuring the ACI using the graphical interface is easier. That's one advantage. New administrators can easily jump in and manage the system.

    It saves time.

    What is most valuable?

    It adds a layer of complication but one area where it has an advantage, a benefit, is that you're able to reuse a specific integration. If you add another server, you can use a specific integration and assign it to another port.

    You can back up the configuration, restore a configuration. It's easier compared to the traditional way of keeping a text file of the configuration. With ACI the management itself has been improved since you can manage it using the graphical user interface. 

    There a lot of integrations that can be done. VMware can be integrated with ACI, that's another advantage, although we did not use it as much because the client also has its own virtualization software.

    What needs improvement?

    One of the things that makes it a lot more complicated is the way contracts are handled in ACI. Contracts are like their own access lists. They can improve the setting up of contracts between devices a lot. It can be simplified. Because ACI re-invented something that's been working for so long - you can now have overlapping subnet - it gets really confusing when they say that you can use the same subnet for different VLANs.

    They should make a standard list of best practices and that makes it easy for the people who are going to use it. That part alone, when they tried to remove subnet and VLANs, that's an integral part of networking which people have been used to for so long. They tried to remove it. I don't know why, but when they did that, it muddled up the concepts of networking, and people need time to adjust. That's why they have to put out a best-practice's guide, to make it easier for traditional-method people to adapt to ACI. 

    Another area for improvement is establishing a Layer 3 Out policy. Accessing the internet is a bit complicated where, before, using Cisco devices, it was just one line of code. With ACI, it took us a few days, almost a week, to just figure it out using the GUI.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    One to three years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Stability-wise, we really have not had any issues with it. It's pretty stable. That's a good thing.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It's scalable because of the spine-and-leaf infrastructure. You can add spine and leaf. I haven't scaled it that much. We've only used three or four leaves into the ACI infrastructure. But I believe the scalability is good.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Cisco's technical support seems pretty good. No complaints about the response time. When we were into the implementation phase, we had two cases and they were able to respond quickly and to resolve the cases quickly.

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup was relatively complex. It was really not straightforward at all.

    The strategy was to just browse through Cisco's web site to get the setup guide. We used the initial configuration guide and we browsed through a lot of videos from people who had done it before us.

    The deployment took a few days more a month. The biggest complication was establishing the routing system, how to do routing.

    There were three of us from our company involved in the deployment, but the project also involved Cisco Hyperflex and Cisco FlexPod.

    What was our ROI?

    I'm not really so sure of how fast our client has seen return on investment. But maybe in the past three years they have seen it.

    I cannot comment on how much ROI they've had. But they've established some BPO centers, call centers, using the infrastructure. I don't know how much success they've had.

    What other advice do I have?

    If you can afford it, it's a very good solution. It's a high-end solution to put a data center on. Also, you need the right people to use it. It would be better if you had some programmers who know Python and not only people who are network engineers. If you can afford it, it is going to be the next thing, in a few years' time. It's a good solution if you have the right people and budget.

    We have an ongoing interaction with the client for whom we implemented ACI. We implemented it two years ago and since then we have been constantly supporting the client with their ACI infrastructure. The people who use it are the ones accessing their data center. There are around 200 to 300 people, across the entire organization.

    Two people maintain it.

    In the past few years there hasn't been much increase in usage. The client has not told us of any plans for expanding their ACI infrastructure.

    I would rate ACI at seven out of ten. It adds a layer of complexity that you can really do without. I can't give it a ten when the traditional way of doing things still gets the job done, especially for people with experience with Cisco. It's much easier to configure stuff the traditional way using the CLI. For me, there's really not much of an advantage. The advantage is for people who are new to Cisco and the CLI environment. Then, going into ACI and having to configure it using the GUI is better. For me, it doesn't really give me that much of a benefit.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
    Imran Alvi
    Network Consultant at Onstack Inc
    Consultant
    Integrates with multiple virtual environments, but native support for security is lacking

    Pros and Cons

    • "The best part of ACI is that it can integrate with a lot of virtual environments like VMware, Hyper-V, and KVM."
    • "Better troubleshooting features would be helpful. In ACI, it can be a big mess, a real headache to troubleshoot a single issue... The troubleshooting part, and the information that ACI gives you, sometimes don't give you a proper, inside picture of what's going on within the fabric."

    What is our primary use case?

    The primary use case is in an environment where the customer has a very large virtual compute and a lot of physical compute as well - in terms of the number of servers - and a big heterogeneous firewall. They want to converge their racks where they have a physical firewall and a virtual firewall. They have their metal servers and VMware or Hyper-V VMs. This is the best use case. This is where ACI fits best because it can integrate the physical and virtual environments together within a single fabric. It can give a very good overview, an "aerial view" of your whole data center within your fabric. That's the best use case.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The improvement I have seen after ACI has been implemented is that companies that wanted to implement a service lifecycle of any services, or that wanted to do automation, really improved their deployment times. Once the fabric is up, then they can start doing so. Customers usually get confused and think that if they implement ACI then everything gets automated. No. That's a mistake. With ACI, you have to buy software, an automation orchestration tool like Ansible, UCSD, or vRealize - tools to automate.

    The improvement is that when companies buy an automation tool with Cisco ACI, the deployment time, their designs, are really fast. 

    Another improvement is that customers say that the performance is really good with their new network.

    What is most valuable?

    The best part of ACI is that it can integrate with a lot of virtual environments like VMware, Hyper-V, and KVM. That's the best feature that sticks out in my mind because I have worked with customers who were looking into different solutions. The biggest selling point for them, which finalized their choice of ACI, was because it supported both Microsoft and VMware.

    What needs improvement?

    Better troubleshooting features would be helpful. In ACI, it can be a big mess, a real headache to troubleshoot a single issue. Cisco should work on the troubleshooting part of ACI. The troubleshooting part, and the information that ACI gives you, sometimes don't give you a proper, inside picture of what's going on within the fabric.

    We had an issue where the customer was not able to sync with the NTP server and we were not able to identify the problem. The NTP was just not talking to ACI. The troubleshooting part is a bit difficult in ACI, and I feel that it should have been improved a long ago, but I don't know if they're working on it or not.

    Also, they have the new designs for Multipod and Multi-Site. There are a lot of good features, like static storage connections. But I have seen some customers that faced issues with connecting the storage to the fabric.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    Three to five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The stability is good. Initially, it was not that good, but now it's really good with the new code.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    I would give the solution's scalability an eight out of ten. The scalability options are really good. You just connect the leaves to the spine and it comes up. The scalability is not an issue.

    The biggest environment I've worked with has two spines, spines with 16 leaves.

    In terms of the number of users on it, initially it was really difficult for customers to adopt the new technology because it was a wholly new concept. Now, with time, and as ACI comes out with the new features, and the stability is really strong, the adoption is really good. According to Cisco engineers, they have customers who have gone up to 6,000 users.

    Regarding the possibility of our customers' increasing their usage of ACI, we don't see that much indication of it, because what the customers are looking is more along the lines of having their fabric be more redundant. One of the features engineers are looking for is the Endpoint Tracker, which has had some issues. It is not that user-friendly.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I love their tech support. I would rate it at eight out of ten. It's really good with ACI. Even non-ACI support is really good. If you open a P1 case, an engineer comes online within ten to 15 minutes and starts doing the debugging and troubleshooting with you. 

    I had an issue with their HyperFlex solution where the issue was more an interior design issue, and not a Cisco issue, but the tech came onto the call in 10 minutes and worked with me for six hours, non-stop, to fix the issue. They do it really slowly because they don't want to impact production. Otherwise, they could probably have done it in 15 to 20 minutes.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is really straightforward. Very easy.

    In terms of implementation strategy, Cisco has a concept called the Zero Touch installation, where you just connect the fabric and it actually starts discovering its own fabric. The implementation strategy is to install ACI in a silo'ed environment first, set all the policies there, and then connect your existing network parallel to ACI so that the network has a redundant connection to ACI. Then you gradually move your network connections from the legacy to ACI. This is how Cisco recommends an implementation be done.

    It usually doesn't take more than a week for all that, max. We usually do it with two people, and we do it very smoothly. Usually, when you bring the fabric up, you have to make a lot of policies, including software profiles and the like. That is time-consuming work, but once it's done you can just recall them again and again in the customer's environment. That's the only thing that we need two people for. After that, when you're done, a single engineer can get migrate the network to ACI.

    Maintenance of ACI is really easy, to decommission a leaf switch or a spine switch. When you decommission a switch from your existing ACI fabric, it's straightforward. In general one engineer is required for maintenance with a second engineer as a backup. Maintenance is really easy with ACI. Even if you're upgrading your fabric to new software, it's straightforward because they have built-in connections within the fabric. There is zero downtime. We have done it many times with zero downtime in a production environment.

    What was our ROI?

    One of our customers is a petroleum development company in the Middle East. They have seen very good ROI by implementing ACI. Their compute was relatively very new and their network was relatively very old. They saw very good ROI by having a very good, stable fabric that gives them very good response time on the network side.

    The second part is that they wanted to implement a cloud solution which would support their existing Hyper-V and Microsoft. That was where the customer saw a good ROI on the investment. They were very happy with Cisco ACI.

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

    I'm not involved in the pricing part, but Cisco has come up with Smart Licensing, which is a bit higher. But now they're giving the customers very good discount rates to bring customers in.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We are using VMware NSX in our environment as well. We had a customer that was using both NSX and ACI in their environment.

    The good thing about NSX is that it has really strong support for the virtualized environment. And now the security is an integral part of their network solution, with the Distributed Firewall and the Edge Firewall. But it has some of its own issues because in a virtual environment, when you have big data centers where there is a lot of traffic coming in from the routing site, it's usually not up to that mark. Cisco has better visibility into that. If I compare it with ACI, ACI has a very strong routing component, but it has its own shortcomings.

    In terms of rating NSX, I'm going to be biased because I work in ACI. I like NSX as well, it is a great product. It has a lot of flexibility because you can use existing servers and install NSX on them and It works pretty well. I rate NSX at six out of ten. The reason I rate it a little bit less than ACI is because its only native, strong support is for VMware. ACI has native support for Hyper-V and VMware.

    What other advice do I have?

    Plan. Don't jump to a conclusion, plan it. You should first know your infrastructure and what your targets are, what you are trying to implement because, when you are more security focused, Cisco ACI can give you a tough in implementation. If you are more into converging your fabric, you want to your data center to be very converged into a single fabric with fast convergence times, go for ACI. There are different use cases based on what the customer's priorities are. So plan well, know your target, what you're trying to achieve. If you want to deploy more VMs faster, go for NSX. Don't go for ACI for that.

    As a Cisco partner, our company does training and implementations on Cisco's behalf for different customers. Sometimes Cisco needs some advanced services to help the customer to do the implementation. Sometimes the customer has a problem with the ACI service. It's a new technology so some customers are really confused with the new terms and the new deployment style of ACI. They cannot compare it with their legacy solution, and when they start comparing it they get confused. We help with how the migration should be done from the legacy to ACI.

    I would rate Cisco ACI at seven out of ten. The good thing about ACI is its integration with the different hypervisors. It supports VMware, Hyper-V, and KVM. When a customer is looking into a heterogeneous environment where ACI is involved and the other part is VMware for their NSX SDN, VMware has now come up with its own heterogeneous system, NSX-V. They realized very late that they had a problem, that they could only integrate with the VMware environment. Where Cisco ACI had an edge over them was that they could integrate with the virtual environment of Hyper-V, VMware, and KVM very well. And ACI automation also helps deploy and do the integration very easily in the virtual compute part of the network.

    Also with ACI, the performance of switches is really good - it's actually a hardware-based SDN - and the delays are very small. The performance is really good with ACI.

    But ACI has its own shortcomings such as not having very strong native support for security. Customers always have to look into third-party security solutions to implement good security within their software-defined data centers. If you compare it with NSX, NSX comes with the Distributed Firewall and the Edge Firewall. It has its own native security. This is where ACI lacks a lot because you have to implement contracts and filters. It's a very tricky part. You have to be very careful when implementing the contracts. If you make a little mistake, it can cause a good amount troubleshooting time to debug the issue. That's the missing part.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
    NK
    Sr Network Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    We don't need to configure any part of the VXLAN

    Pros and Cons

    • "There are many features which are useful, like the automatic completion of the VXLAN."
    • "They should improve the GUI, make it simpler. They also need to improve its integration with other automation tools."

    What is our primary use case?

    My primary use case is for server deployment automation.

    How has it helped my organization?

    There is no need to configure all the switches, you can configure them from the device controller.

    In day-to-day activity, it creates an installer for a particular VLAN to be implemented. 

    Also, I don't need to monitor everything, login to every switch. I can monitor them centrally.

    What is most valuable?

    There are many features which are useful, like the automatic completion of the VXLAN. We don't need to configure any part of the VXLAN, which is tedious to do.

    What needs improvement?

    They should improve the GUI, make it simpler. They also need to improve its integration with other automation tools.

    In terms of additional features, I would recommend of PTP support, which they have yet to come out with.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    One to three years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Right now it's stable. We haven't had to create any support issues. When doing the implementation, support was quite useful where, if somebody made a wrong connection to some other part of the network, the wrong port, they were able to track it and solve it. But in day-to-day operations, we haven't had any issues.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The scalability is very good, based on the spine-leaf structure. You can increase the number of leaves and you can also scale the spines. You can deploy four spines, eight spines.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    There have not been that many hard, critical issues. There were some minor issues which were handled by technical support efficiently, but there have been no critical issues up until now.

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

    We did not have a previous solution. We had a traditional network.

    One of the reasons we looked at ACI was that the traditional network was going end-of-support. At that time we had to decide whether to go with the traditional approach or to go with SDN, which is the future, where we can do automation. 

    ACI also has many benefits that network guys can make use of. We could not get that type of visibility: where the VMs are connected and which switches are connected. We didn't have that visibility. Now we can have that visibility into the virtual part as well. Also, if you want to trace a packet, there is a feature that helps troubleshoot.

    The visibility helps us identify if the server is connected to the wrong feed or wrong LAN. We can immediately try to identify what the issue is, or if packets are being dropped.

    How was the initial setup?

    For new users it has particularly new concepts, so people have to digest the implementation part and the regular use, the day-to-day operations. But once you're familiar with it, once the concepts are clear, it's quite easy to go on with day-to-day operations.

    Laying the fabric-building and the policy for usage, with four spines and three controllers, can be done within a day. But the mapping and other operations take about a week, to complete the entire fabric with the proper testing and implementation.

    In terms of implementation strategy, we have done two deployments. In the first, we had time to study what they were using, what VLANs, what the other requirements were. Migrating from legacy to ACI takes time. The main challenge is configuring ACI applications for visibility. It takes time to learn the traffic and then map the policies to ACI.

    Day-to-day for maintenance, we have one or two people who work together in shifts, they're able to manage things.

    What about the implementation team?

    For one of the setups we used Cisco support, which was very helpful. They have a good core team which provided us support. Cisco's team had three people on the ground. Our team consisted of two or three people for the implementation.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We evaluated VMware NSX. When we compared the technical solution of ACI and NSX, how the traffic flows from physical to virtual and virtual to physical, there were many parameters which we compared, some of which were critical.

    What other advice do I have?

    Know exactly what you are looking for and what workloads there are. If your company has workloads based on virtualization of VMware, you should know how many physical machines there are and how many virtual machines there are. Also, you need an idea of the kind of costs you can pay for deploying the infrastructure. Look into the support, the documentation, how it would work for troubleshooting. All those things matter. Also, look at the company's relationships with the OEMs, what kind of partnership they have, what kind of support the OEMs can provide.

    We have two locations where people use Cisco ACI. One has about eight to ten people for support, and the other location has seven to eight people. All are network support staff.

    Once an implementation is done, it's regular day-to-day operations. If anything new comes up, new VLANs, we'll handle it. There are things in our pipeline where we are planning to have ACI deployed in our remaining data centers.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    KC
    Network Engineer at CS Computer Systems
    Real User
    The simplicity of the deployment is one of its main benefits

    Pros and Cons

    • "Now, our customers have tiers of management that have meetings with about the simplest tasks because it has to be approved from upper management and senior management and by the time it gets to the engineer that's going to deploy it, it takes way too long. With the solution, they can delegate a person who would be in charge of running the ACI as a whole, and it will be much faster because it doesn't have to go through the whole chain of command for the simple task of deploying one little machine on one port in the data center."
    • "I would like for there to be more information about it available. While using the ACI in the graphical interface, I would like if there was something that explained every step that you can click and it will tell you what you are doing in more detail."

    What is our primary use case?

    We're planning to use it as a product to sell to our customers. We are in the business of service integration. We offer solutions for our customers. We have specific customers who have a use for ACI because of the microsegmentation. They have five regional offices which all have five different people who are responsible for managing their site so we are trying to unite them and put everything under one roof and have a single place of control and visibility of the full network specifically for their data center.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Now, our customers have tiers of management that have meetings with about the simplest tasks because it has to be approved from upper management and senior management and by the time it gets to the engineer that's going to deploy it, it takes way too long. With the solution, they can delegate a person who would be in charge of running the ACI as a whole, and it will be much faster because it doesn't have to go through the whole chain of command for the simple task of deploying one little machine on one port in the data center.

    What is most valuable?

    It eases our deployment. Now, we use service requests when there's a project and we have to deploy it. So when the networking team gets a service request it'll be two clicks, anyone can do it. It will be less of a job, and it will be easier and faster. The main benefit is the simplicity of the deployment. On the flipside, it's also a drawback because if only one person does it and if he does something wrong, the whole system can stop working. If ten people are doing ten different things and one person messes up, it's only one error and it's easier to isolate the problem and fix it. A customer is going to deploy something on their own and more often than not, they don't have the knowledge and experience to understand what can go wrong, so they might accidentally clog the network.

    What needs improvement?

    If I was a customer who is using the ACI to run my network, I would like for there to be more information about it available. While using the ACI in the graphical interface, I would like if there was something that explained every step that you can click and it will tell you what you are doing in more detail. For me, I understand what's happening because I did a course, but the problem will be when our customers, who are not so versatile in this, start using it and won't know what's going on. If it works it's fine, but when they run into problems, then it's gonna be an issue. If everything works, it should be fine but if any issues come up, a lot of Cisco services will be needed.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The scalability is impressive. I think the best thing about that is the vendor-agnostic part. In the lab, we did a VMware deployment from what I heard it doesn't matter how the VM is deployed, it can integrate with ACI and you can manage it from the Epic controller.

    How was the initial setup?

    In the lab environment, we had a setup rebuilt, it was their virtual environment. It was a small deployment. Four switches in total, two leaf and two spine switches, and three controllers. From my past experiences with those types of deployments, the setup shouldn't be an issue. The natural connectivity between them and six switches should be easy. From the controller itself, the deployment of the overlay is pretty straightforward and simple.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would rate it an eight out of ten. 

    I would advise a colleague to definitely try it. Mess around with it, test it as much as possible because it's a new solution. It's different from the traditional data center deployment so there's not a lot of internet posts about it in which you could go and Google and find out more information. The chances that someone has had your problem before and probably found a solution for it are slim so you might get stuck and you will have to go straight to Cisco.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
    EC
    IT Network Engineer at MANGO
    Real User
    Has improved communication between my endpoints in the data center but the setup is complex

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case is to interconnect both data centers in my corporation.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The biggest benefit has been that it has improved communication between my endpoints in the data center.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see better training. I don't have good training with this product. If I did, I probably would be able to solve all of the problems during the installations. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's very stable. 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Their technical support is fantastic. Whenever I have a problem, our partners at Cisco support answer quickly.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was complex. If I didn't have my partner's support, I…

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case is to interconnect both data centers in my corporation.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The biggest benefit has been that it has improved communication between my endpoints in the data center.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see better training. I don't have good training with this product. If I did, I probably would be able to solve all of the problems during the installations. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's very stable. 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Their technical support is fantastic. Whenever I have a problem, our partners at Cisco support answer quickly.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was complex. If I didn't have my partner's support, I probably couldn't deploy Cisco ACI in my data center.

    What about the implementation team?

    We implemented through a partner. I trust our partner, and I trust any of their recommendations and their deployments.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would rate this solution a five out of ten. Not a ten because I don't have good training for this solution. I am now implementing Cisco ACI in the company. It's not 100% on the network. It's on 25% approx, more or less.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    LS
    Major Change Supervisor at Vodafone
    Real User
    Has a straightforward migration of all applications and their support is top-notch

    Pros and Cons

    • "The straightforward migration of all of the applications and loop balancing are the two most valuable features. Also, the measurement of their customer-wide sources is very straightforward. It's another dimension of the networks."
    • "I would like for them to develop integration with AWS."

    What is our primary use case?

    We started working with a customer which is in the Netherlands. They are really important for us. They started migrating the building of their CRM to ACI. We started with 2.0. We just upgraded the fabric to 3.2. In the next three months, we are aiming to migrate and upgrade the fabric plan to 4.0

    How has it helped my organization?

    Our customer has around 1,000 virtual machines and before, they were all 100 physical servers which, on our side, were obviously consuming energy and resources. Now everything is on the customer and so it's up to them to manage the size of the virtual machines. 

    What is most valuable?

    The straightforward migration of all of the applications and loop balancing are the two most valuable features. Also, the measurement of their customer-wide sources is very straightforward. It's another dimension of the networks.

    What needs improvement?

    The virtualization area needs improvement but I expect that to happen with the 4.0 version.

    I would like for them to develop integration with AWS. 

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Scalability is pretty good. 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Their technical support is top notch. 

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

    We had reached the capacity in the data center. We could build a new data center or buy a new solution so we migrated to a new solution to save space. 

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup was complex because we have a complex internet architecture. It wasn't because of the product. It was complex because of internal issues on our side. 

    What about the implementation team?

    We had Cisco support but everything was done internally. 

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We only looked at Cisco because we have all of our routing and switching infrastructure with Cisco. 

    What other advice do I have?

    I would rate it an eight out of ten. There's room for improvement in the software version. To get to a ten, they should improve the virtualization and develop integration with AWS. 

    For companies starting from scratch, ACI is the best solution in terms of the space needed and time to delivery. 

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    BB
    Network Engineer at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
    Real User
    The most cost effective compared to other options and has the ability to integrate with other systems

    Pros and Cons

    • "The ability to integrate with other systems is the most valuable feature."
    • "We have had two calls with technical support. They are not the best. We opened a case to diagnose issues and it's taken weeks to get someone on the case and to move forward."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case is to provide a replacement for our existing infrastructure in the data center. It's part of our lifecycle management.

    What is most valuable?

    The ability to integrate with other systems is the most valuable feature. 

    What needs improvement?

    We designed it from scratch which contributed to the complexity. They should have better information about the deployment requirements.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    We haven't had any issues with stability so far. This is going to be concluded after doing some DR testing. 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    We have had two calls with technical support. They are not the best. We opened a case to diagnose issues and it's taken weeks to get someone on the case and to move forward. 

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup is simple in the beginning but complex when you get to the tiny details that need to be taken care of. I would say the initial public deployment is easy, but the migration part is more complex. 

    What about the implementation team?

    We used Cisco services to help with the implementation. They were involved in the design phase but the rest we tried to keep in-house. Our experience with Cisco was that they were very helpful. 

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We also looked at VMware NSX. We went with Cisco because they are the most cost effective compared to the other options. 

    What other advice do I have?

    I would rate it an eight out of ten. Not a ten because it has a steep learning curve. 

    I would advise someone considering this solution to watch the ACI presentations because they are packed with details and experience that comes from the trainers. It's very beneficial to get real-world experience.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Grzegorz Dygon
    Specialist Lab Network at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Has a lot of scalability options, saves a lot of time, and is worth the money

    Pros and Cons

    • "It has benefited my organization by saving us a lot of time."
    • "I would like for ACI to manage all of the devices."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case of this solution is for monitoring, automation, links monitoring, configuring of devices, like laptop devices. I use templates and push templates to the devices. We also use it for global software updates.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It has benefited my organization by saving us a lot of time. 

    What is most valuable?

    There's a lot of units in the lab and a lot of templates that go to the lab. That is the most valuable feature. 

    What needs improvement?

    I would like for ACI to manage all of the devices. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's stable. I don't think we have had any downtime or lag. It works fine. 

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    There's a lot of options with scalability. There's a limit of 1000 devices.

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

    I checked forums and sites. We asked the reseller if Cisco could come in to do a demo. We saw there were some things they could do that we needed in the company so we went with it. 

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup is okay. The configuration takes a lot of time and we have to prepare the devices to communicate with ACI which took a lot of time. The entire setup took around eight hours. 

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

    We don't use all of the features but it's still worth the money.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would rate it an eight out of ten. 

    Prepare your infrastructure beforehand because once you run the ACI it goes to one device every time and reconfigures it. Prepare the devices before, check their specifications, and then run the ACI. It will help you save your time.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Omer Yavuz
    Group Leader at Havelsan Hava Elektronik Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.s.
    Real User
    Operation and maintenance costs have been reduced and configuration is easy

    What is our primary use case?

    Instead of using traditional network structures we use ACI for network function mutualization. The mutualization of network devices and also for the control of automatization to manage the internet public.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The operation and maintenance costs have been reduced. It is also simple to deploy any deployment. Any configuration can be easily done. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It is stable.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    We've had to use their technical support and have found them to be helpful.

    How was the initial setup?

    The first setup was difficult because it is a very different discipline than other traditional network deployments. The terminology is very different, so…

    What is our primary use case?

    Instead of using traditional network structures we use ACI for network function mutualization. The mutualization of network devices and also for the control of automatization to manage the internet public.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The operation and maintenance costs have been reduced. It is also simple to deploy any deployment. Any configuration can be easily done. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It is stable.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    We've had to use their technical support and have found them to be helpful.

    How was the initial setup?

    The first setup was difficult because it is a very different discipline than other traditional network deployments. The terminology is very different, so the first time can be difficult.

    What about the implementation team?

    We implemented it ourselves. 

    What was our ROI?

    We have seen ROI. It has saved operation costs and also, the deployment phases are now very quick.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

    If your objective is to deploy infrastructure quickly and in a fast manner this is the best solution.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    DK
    IT Network at a healthcare company with 201-500 employees
    Real User
    We get faster deployments of network policies based on applications that we provide

    Pros and Cons

    • "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."
    • "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 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.
    NetworkE4953
    Network Engineer at a comms service provider with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Has reduced the time it takes to resolve problems but the initial setup is very complex

    Pros and Cons

    • "Their technical support is very good. We had a problem and Cisco gave us the best engineer to resolve the issue."

      What is our primary use case?

      We use this product at a French hospital. It has helped to improve the data center and we would like to use it to change how we work with clients. 

      How has it helped my organization?

      It has reduced the time it takes to resolve problems and to understand what colleagues want from inside the company.

      What is most valuable?

      It simplifies the utilization of the network. 

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The first time we used it, it was not stable, but now, a few years later, it's better. Cisco continues to work on this. If anything is not stable, tech helps us. 

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It has very good scalability. 

      How are customer service and technical support?

      Their technical support is very good. We had a problem and Cisco gave us the best engineer to resolve the issue. 

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was very complex. It's a new solution and it was very difficult to have an approach for it. With a lot of the help from a Cisco network engineer we had a good approach and are able to easily resolve any problem. 

      What about the implementation team?

      We used our own company to deploy the network. 

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

      It's expensive but the product is very good. I have never found another partner like Cisco with a solution like this and with great support.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We also looked at Juniper but their solution isn't stable so we didn't go with them. 

      What other advice do I have?

      I would rate it a seven out of ten. It's a good product, and Cisco has a very good support team and very good network engineers. 

      Of course I would recommend this product. We work with Cisco because they have many possibilities to work with very good support. 

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      Michel RASIAH
      Network Engineer at Societe Generale
      Real User
      The product needs more documentation, but we will be improving our organization with the automation

      Pros and Cons

      • "We will improve our organization using the automation."
      • "We deployed a lot of Fabrics to multiple sites, which was a bit complex."

      What is our primary use case?

      We are switching the Nexus line to ACI for our customer: the server, firewall, etc.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We will improve our organization using the automation.

      What is most valuable?

      • Its resilience
      • It easy to configure.

      What needs improvement?

      They need more documentation. Because when we hit an issue and searched on Google, we didn't find a lot of documents about the issue. Possibly because it's a new product.

      We are deploying ACI, and at same time, we are testing migration from our old network. Our old next is Nexus, latest version, and we have a less load balancing and it's hard to migrate. We are hitting some issues, so maybe there is room for improvement.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      Less than one year.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is to early to evaluate the stability.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is okay. We are deploying the leaf switches one-to-one.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      The technical support is okay. We have been looking into some issues with our legacy network when migrating our ACI. While the tech support has responded well, we are still waiting for some more information.

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

      We were having some issues with our network, so we took some advice from Cisco regarding that product, and looked for another product to replace it.

      How was the initial setup?

      We deployed a lot of Fabrics to multiple sites, which was a bit complex.

      What about the implementation team?

      We only worked directly with Cisco's IT, and they provide some consultants onsite to help us.

      What other advice do I have?

      Cisco ACI is a good solution, but Cisco needs to test all the networks before doing a migration.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      RV
      Systems Engineer at a tech services company
      Real User
      You can automate it. It also has a lot of insight into monitoring and traffic.

      Pros and Cons

      • "It scales very well. When you increasingly scale with it, it makes the product easier to work with."
      • "The interface is sometimes slow. I receive a lot of weird errors when I try to install apps, such as contract apps, which should give me a nice visualization of all the contracts. However, it just doesn't load, etc."

      What is our primary use case?

      The primary use case is for data center switching. This is what it was intended to do.

      How has it helped my organization?

      I am a partner, and I implement the solution for other organizations.

      What is most valuable?

      • It scales very well. When you increasingly scale with it, it makes the product easier to work with.
      • You can automate it.
      • It has a lot of insight into monitoring and traffic. However, this could also be improved.

      What needs improvement?

      The interface is sometimes slow. I receive a lot of weird errors when I try to install apps, such as contract apps, which should give me a nice visualization of all the contracts. However, it just doesn't load, etc.

      I would like more thought put into the way the graphic part of the monitoring is rendered. When you have a lot of contracts, you can't understand the graphics because they are so loaded.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The solution is stable. I haven't seen it crash.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      While I haven't done big installs, it does seem like it would scale well.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      I haven't used the technical support.

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

      This is a client decision on whether to switch.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup isn't straightforward, but it is manageable. 

      What about the implementation team?

      We are the integrator for our customers. The installation is straightforward.

      What was our ROI?

      I am an implementer, not user, of the solution. Therefore, ROI is not applicable.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We were only considering Cisco. ACI is such a complex solution that I am not sure that are any competitors which can match the product's complexity.

      What other advice do I have?

      Go for this solution.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      Andrea Margheritini
      Project Manager at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
      Real User
      We can support multiple VDRs of multiple branch offices at same physical location in the same infrastructure

      What is our primary use case?

      We use ACI with Nexus 9000 in multi-tenancy scenarios.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We can support multiple VDRs of multiple branch offices at same physical location in the same infrastructure.

      What is most valuable?

      It offers multitenancy. The opportunity to install it on the same platform with a huge amount of customers.

      What needs improvement?

      It needs more features for integrating with third-party vendors.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The product's stability is quite good.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability's capabilities are very good for our needs.

      How was the initial setup?

      Our initial setup was complex because we have a very complex scenario. We had to put in…

      What is our primary use case?

      We use ACI with Nexus 9000 in multi-tenancy scenarios.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We can support multiple VDRs of multiple branch offices at same physical location in the same infrastructure.

      What is most valuable?

      It offers multitenancy. The opportunity to install it on the same platform with a huge amount of customers.

      What needs improvement?

      It needs more features for integrating with third-party vendors.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The product's stability is quite good.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability's capabilities are very good for our needs.

      How was the initial setup?

      Our initial setup was complex because we have a very complex scenario. We had to put in place a tricky solution in order to support all of our customers' needs. However, we feel confident that it is a good solution for our needs.

      What about the implementation team?

      We implemented it in-house.

      What other advice do I have?

      Leverage the multi-tenant functionalities. We have been quite satisfied with the implementation.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      EK
      Network Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
      Real User
      The centralized management is its most valuable feature. With the first setup, it was complex because of the terminology.

      Pros and Cons

      • "Having a lot of racks and switches with a single point of configuration which can be done with automation on one platform using one API. This makes everything work faster."
      • "We are waiting to see what happens with the cloud. We want to see if it will scale better."

      What is our primary use case?

      We have it as a data center fabric, so it is layered to Fabric installation.

      How has it helped my organization?

      Having a lot of racks and switches with a single point of configuration which can be done with automation on one platform using one API. This makes everything work faster.

      What is most valuable?

      The centralized management is its most valuable feature.

      What needs improvement?

      With the first setup, it was complex because of the terminology. We were clicking around because we did understand the API console. The hardest part was to make something scalable and easy to use in the future without having any prior knowledge. It was hard, which is why we used consultants with the setup to provide us advice.

      We did have problem with APIC, but we didn't even notice it. We changed it with no impact.

      We are waiting to see what happens with the cloud. We want to see if it will scale better. Also, we want to see how they will be moving to the cloud. At this time, we don't know.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is quite stable. We have not had any problems. I believe it is because of the way it is built. 

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      So far, the scalability has been good. It has been better than other products.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      The technical support has been okay for what we are doing. We haven't done anything very tricky. However, what we are doing has been out of the ordinary scope of networking. 

      We have everything we need in terms of support. The technical support has been helpful.

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

      We previously had two different solutions. We switched because wanted a more modern, scalable solution with a bigger infrastructure, so we went with Cisco ACI.

      How was the initial setup?

      The first setup was complex, but the second one was easy.

      What about the implementation team?

      The setup was done by a few consultants and us. The consultants were helpful because when we started, we had no idea about Cisco ACI. The experts helped by saying, "Do this and that."

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

      A big company can automate it themselves or spend a lot of money and buy it.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We also consider Juniper, but we decided on Cisco because Juniper's system scalability and stability are not good.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      MC
      Network Engineer at BPCE Infogérance & Technologies
      Real User
      It has centralized our projects, but the user interface is complex

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it for virtual automation and virtual networking in our data center. It is for virtualized networks instead of physical elements.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It has centralized our projects.

      What is most valuable?

      It is easy to use because you have all the information coming from the same technology.

      What needs improvement?

      The ACI user interface is complex and Cisco should improve it. We had to take time to learn the product, as it is quite complicated to understand.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The product is stable. We use it all day.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      We have technical support with Cisco, and it is great. They are easy to reach. We are big client. They generally…

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it for virtual automation and virtual networking in our data center. It is for virtualized networks instead of physical elements.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It has centralized our projects.

      What is most valuable?

      It is easy to use because you have all the information coming from the same technology.

      What needs improvement?

      The ACI user interface is complex and Cisco should improve it.

      We had to take time to learn the product, as it is quite complicated to understand.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The product is stable. We use it all day.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      We have technical support with Cisco, and it is great. They are easy to reach. We are big client. They generally solve our issues.

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

      We were previously using Cisco NX-OS products, which are physical, but we needed to install virtual. 

      We have large data centers which need to be integrated with vRealize.

      How was the initial setup?

      At beginning, it was not easy to set up, because it is a complex project. However, the initial setup was easy overall.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      BJ
      Senior Network Engineer
      Real User
      We have saved time on the provisioning and configuration

      Pros and Cons

      • "The scalability has been great. It is very easy to scale."
      • "It would be better to introduce some wizards to guide you through the whole configuration process instead of clicking through a bunch of menus with no concrete path. It is too easy to forget one or another if you configure it this way."

      What is our primary use case?

      The primary use case is for our data centers. It has performed quite well so far. We interconnected it with our legacy infrastructure. We are now considering moving everything into the new environment, and hoping for the best.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It improved the speed of the daily business. With the preconfigured workflows, daily business task are now done more quickly than in the past. 

      What is most valuable?

      Automation is its most valuable feature.

      What needs improvement?

      I am still not quite happy with the APIC GUI, since I am more of a CLI guy. I don't really use the GUI a lot. It would be better to introduce some wizards to guide you through the whole configuration process instead of clicking through a bunch of menus with no concrete path. It is too easy to forget one or another if you configure it this way. A wizard would be a great help.

      We are still struggling with some design issues, but most of these issues will be fixed in the next release.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      Still implementing.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability has been good so far. We still haven't brought our entire workload into ACI. We just have particular systems running on it, but they are perfectly stable. However, there is still the question mark of what will happen when we bring all our data into the new environment, and If it can carry it.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability has been great. It is very easy to scale. We are quite a big customer, so we had some scalability issues with the older, multi-part environment versions of Cisco products.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      The technical support is good. Though, I am not that experience with them, as I try to resolve issues on my own.

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

      We switched to this solution to be able to automize. We were starting to migrate our old legacy network from user campuses, backbones, and data centers into SDN technology, and automation was a requirement for the new solution that we chose.

      How was the initial setup?

      The setup was quite straightforward. Building the Fabric with the automatic discovery process doesn't require you to do a lot compared to the old legacy networks.

      What about the implementation team?

      We used Cisco for the deployment.

      What was our ROI?

      We have saved time on the provisioning and configuration.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      Because of timeline issues, we were focused to use Cisco products and did not consider any other vendors.

      What other advice do I have?

      If you are still using the finger-defined networking approach, I would recommend trying this solution.

      We are happy that spanning tree feature was not included in the new design.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      Ruben Del Monte
      Network Consulting Engineer at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      You can do a lot of things with it because it is a very flexible solution

      What is our primary use case?

      Right now, we are using ACI Fabric to replace legacy equipment.

      How has it helped my organization?

      The customer is in a phase where they are building all the Fabric and moving everything. Therefore, it is early to discuss the use case. In the short-term, they plan to use ACI Fabric  to replace everything (their entire infrastructure) that they have at the moment. 

      What is most valuable?

      You can do a lot of things with it because it is a very flexible solution.

      What needs improvement?

      There is quite a learning curve at the beginning.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      I haven't seen any major issues with stability.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is great. This is the greatest…

      What is our primary use case?

      Right now, we are using ACI Fabric to replace legacy equipment.

      How has it helped my organization?

      The customer is in a phase where they are building all the Fabric and moving everything. Therefore, it is early to discuss the use case. In the short-term, they plan to use ACI Fabric  to replace everything (their entire infrastructure) that they have at the moment. 

      What is most valuable?

      You can do a lot of things with it because it is a very flexible solution.

      What needs improvement?

      There is quite a learning curve at the beginning.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      I haven't seen any major issues with stability.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is great. This is the greatest feature of the technology. It is a great improvement in scaling out. It can greatly increase the overall scalability of the Fabric with multi-port and multi side, making it a great product.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      There is a dedicated support team inside the Cisco, except (instead of them) we are doing all the day-to-day, standard support activities for our customers.

      How was the initial setup?

      The ACI setup is in its initial phases is difficult. The learning curve at the beginning is higher than a normal setup. However, there is a point in which you have all your objects setup,  policy, etc., then you can reuse them, which is faster compared with a more traditional software, e.g., Nexus 7000 or Catalyst. Once you overcome the learning curve, you can move on with the rest of it.

      What other advice do I have?

      Cisco ACI is a good solution, so I would recommend it.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      CB
      Network Architect at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      The technical support has been excellent. We engaged with Cisco Professional Services to help us get set up and their support has been outstanding.

      Pros and Cons

      • "The initial setup was trivially simple and easy. It builds itself because it is automation. You don't have to do too much."
      • "The product needs to be simpler. There is too much complexity in ACI. 80 percent of its features are of no use to us. We could do with a simplified version."

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it for data center management and multitenancy.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We are service providers. It has allowed us to serve some of our outsourced customers better than the previous generation of products.

      What is most valuable?

      The automation is its most valuable feature.

      What needs improvement?

      The product needs to be simpler. There is too much complexity in ACI. 80 percent of its features are of no use to us. We could do with a simplified version.

      I would like to see some of the roadmap products remotely working to satisfaction where we could actually deploy them for our customers.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability is generally very good, but not perfect, because it has let us down before.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      Scalability has mostly been perfectly adequate for what we have needed so far. We have not hit too many limits.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      The technical support has been excellent. We engaged with Cisco Professional Services to help us get set up and their support has been outstanding. We have had our questions answered. New software and code has been provided when needed.

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

      The desire to automate was a big driver for us to use this solution.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was trivially simple and easy. It builds itself because it is automation. You don't have to do too much.

      What about the implementation team?

      We used Cisco Professional Services for the deployment. They were outstanding, but very expensive.

      What other advice do I have?

      It is an outstanding product.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      ND
      Project Manager at Radio France
      Real User
      The product makes sense from a compatibility point of view since our network is entirely Cisco products

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it to design and manager our network. There are a lot of places inside the building, and we have to bring the new network everywhere to help us.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We use Cisco everywhere in our network, so it makes sense from a compatibility point of view.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      One to three years.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability is perfect. We have had no problems with Cisco ACI.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      We have not thought about scaling at this time.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      As the project manager, I don't call the technical support.

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

      We did not use…

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it to design and manager our network. There are a lot of places inside the building, and we have to bring the new network everywhere to help us.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We use Cisco everywhere in our network, so it makes sense from a compatibility point of view.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      One to three years.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability is perfect. We have had no problems with Cisco ACI.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      We have not thought about scaling at this time.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      As the project manager, I don't call the technical support.

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

      We did not use another solution before Cisco ACI.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was a bit complex.

      What about the implementation team?

      Cisco helped us in the beginning.

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

      Price is always an issue.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      Our network is entirely Cisco, so we did not consider any other vendors.

      What other advice do I have?

      Talk with Cisco partners and Cisco. When we needed to find a solution, they helped us to create the network.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      AD
      IT Evolution Manager at a aerospace/defense firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
      Real User
      It was easy to set up and implement

      Pros and Cons

      • "Once we have it running, it should be easier for us to program our IT rather than going case-by-case, by switches and different elements, or program it by hand."
      • "Biannually, there is a new design delivered by Cisco. Thus, you are always running behind the new design, and it never stops. With Cisco ACI, this has been a nightmare."

      What is our primary use case?

      We are using it for application centric infrastructure (ACI). It is the evolution of the current data center setup from the legacy design to something programmable with some automation features which are missing today. The key challenge is to set up a new data center, then move all the legacy stuff into the new design. 

      We need to understand how to do it, as are already under way. We already have products, but we need to go farther in the design and development of the platform.

      How has it helped my organization?

      Financially, it should be an improvement because we expect everything will converge in the tool. Therefore, we can change the way that we invest money in resources. Today, we have to keep a very wide range of skill resources in the company. Going forward, we will be able to focus in more specific skills that will allow us to keep the new tool up and running. It's a big change of approach, but in the long run, it will provide us a lot of benefits. The benefit is the finance of our IT will change.

      What is most valuable?

      Once we have it running, it should be easier for us to program our IT rather than going case-by-case, by switches and different elements, or program it by hand. 

      What needs improvement?

      Interoperability with third-party products always seems so straightforward, but every time you need to invest a lot to add an external element to the ACI Fabric technology. A good improvement would be to have an easier integration with external building blocks in the customer's environment.

      Biannually, there is a new design delivered by Cisco. Thus, you are always running behind the new design, and it never stops. With Cisco ACI, this has been a nightmare. I recommend that they provide more customer focused blueprints to fix this. They should try to learn and understand what are the real needs of each customer.

      Now, we are running behind releases. However, with each new release of a new design, you have to test it and validate it. So, we aren't going operational, which is not good. This support was not offered to us with the product.

      I would not want to see any additional features at this point. We have had enough additional features. We still have a lot to learn and don't want anything extra.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      One to three years.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The hardware is not stable. We have switches failing.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      We are not that big to reach the limit (or edges) of this technology. Its scalability is fine. It is very easy to scale. 

      Today, doing changes to the infrastructure is a nightmare. Every single device has different programs and programmatics. However, with this tool, you simply plug and play. When you want to scale, you add one piece, and it's done. It works.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      We are buying support services from a Cisco partner, and they have not always worked perfectly. Sometimes, we have to open many types of tickets. We have to make them very clear what we need and just exclusively ask them to forward a request to Cisco. Once we get to Cisco, the support works.

      Since the product is new, it is difficult to get the partners onboard. Other companies are not able to provide effective support for this technology yet.

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

      We switched to ACI because there came a time to make the decision to either stay with another 10 years with the technology that we had in place or go through this challenge and bet on the future with better, new technologies (and also new skill sets and new setups for our teams). We also try to resell internally to our internal customers and other departments. We help them find new ways to facilitate their core business. We do IT for them, so they need the best possible solutions from us to make their lives easier.

      Today, it is sort of a nightmare for them too. Every time we have to do maintenance, for instance, on the infrastructure, we have to break their business continuity, which is not always good.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was easy. At the time that we did our setup, the design was easy. The original design was easy to set up. Then, Cisco changed it, and it was more complex. They should not have changed it.

      What about the implementation team?

      Cisco's partner did the implementation. The experience was great. They came and helped us to do a zero day setup. In a few weeks, we were up and running with the pro console.

      What was our ROI?

      The business case is not a complete success today, because we still have the two environments running. We want to switch down the first environment while we have everything up and running on the new one, but it's taking ages. This is a big challenge.

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

      We bought a package for hardware, software, and support. At that time, Cisco was simply selling that package to distributors, then we opted for it directly.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      VMware is one of ACI's competitors. We considered VMware because we also have it in our infrastructure.

      We chose Cisco ACI, because VMware is just focusing virtual infrastructure and microsegmentation. The idea was to use Cisco for the physical infrastructure and integrate with VMware for the virtual infrastructure.

      What other advice do I have?

      I would recommend the solution to anyone with a similar use case, though try for a greenfield solution or project instead of migrating your previous infrastructure.

      In principle, what we are looking for is to have one gigantic tool which can be programmable, making our lives easier in terms of troubleshooting and management.

      Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
      AS
      Cloud Advisory Consultant at Accenture
      Real User
      Provides flexibility, so you can install it everywhere

      What is our primary use case?

      It is installed in the data center, and it works well.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We see it is faster, but still needs improvements.

      What is most valuable?

      The flexibility that you can install it everywhere.

      What needs improvement?

      It needs more integration with public clouds, like Azure and AWS. There are some setup issues that need fixing.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability is good, but it is not the best. New releases keep coming out all the time.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is perfect. It is one of the main reasons that we install it.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      It is standard Cisco technical support. We have not experienced any…

      What is our primary use case?

      It is installed in the data center, and it works well.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We see it is faster, but still needs improvements.

      What is most valuable?

      The flexibility that you can install it everywhere.

      What needs improvement?

      It needs more integration with public clouds, like Azure and AWS.

      There are some setup issues that need fixing.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability is good, but it is not the best. New releases keep coming out all the time.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is perfect. It is one of the main reasons that we install it.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      It is standard Cisco technical support. We have not experienced any specific issues nor benefits.

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

      We are a consultancy company. It was mainly the customer who decided to go with Cisco ACI. The decision, however, was based on the benefits from an investment perspective.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup wasn't straightforward. We experienced some issues.

      What about the implementation team?

      I am the integrator at Accenture.

      What other advice do I have?

      You need a lab to start the test phase before going to production.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      VD
      Pre-sales Engineer at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
      Reseller
      Building the ACI Fabric is its most valuable feature

      What is our primary use case?

      It is used in data centers.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It gives us a new way of providing the network.

      What is most valuable?

      Building the ACI Fabric is its most valuable feature. 

      What needs improvement?

      It needs to be able to function on the cloud.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      I am not using it day-to-day at the moment. My impression is it is working fine.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      On paper, it scales.

      What about the implementation team?

      We did the deployment.

      What other advice do I have?

      Start now with this technology.

      What is our primary use case?

      It is used in data centers.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It gives us a new way of providing the network.

      What is most valuable?

      Building the ACI Fabric is its most valuable feature. 

      What needs improvement?

      It needs to be able to function on the cloud.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      I am not using it day-to-day at the moment. My impression is it is working fine.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      On paper, it scales.

      What about the implementation team?

      We did the deployment.

      What other advice do I have?

      Start now with this technology.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
      AH
      Network Engineer at a political organization with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      Automation is its most valuable feature. The learning curve of this product is very steep.

      What is our primary use case?

      It is used in our data center.

      What is most valuable?

      Automation is its most valuable feature.

      What needs improvement?

      The way the objects are oriented on it are not as straightforward as they should be. The learning curve of this product is very steep. It is not what I'm used to. I miss having the CLI. I am old-fashioned.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It seems fairly stable. We have not had any major hiccups.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It is pretty scalable.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      The technical support is good. We had an issue where we had to talk to Cisco's technical assistance, and it worked out.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was pretty…

      What is our primary use case?

      It is used in our data center.

      What is most valuable?

      Automation is its most valuable feature.

      What needs improvement?

      • The way the objects are oriented on it are not as straightforward as they should be.
      • The learning curve of this product is very steep. It is not what I'm used to.
      • I miss having the CLI. I am old-fashioned.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It seems fairly stable. We have not had any major hiccups.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It is pretty scalable.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      The technical support is good. We had an issue where we had to talk to Cisco's technical assistance, and it worked out.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was pretty straightforward. We just moved from one platform to another.

      What about the implementation team?

      We use consultants for the deployment, and they were very helpful. They had experience that we didn't.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      There was only one logical way to go, and that was with the Cisco ACI.

      What other advice do I have?

      Just go for Cisco ACI.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      RG
      Network Engineer at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees
      Real User
      With this product, I can deploy things with a script, then run it in five minutes

      Pros and Cons

      • "With Cisco ACI, I can deploy things with a script, then run it in five minutes."
      • "Cisco should provide more examples of code in their website. Something that other people can use. There is a great place in the development area."

      What is our primary use case?

      It is a progressive tool. You can automate things with it. It is for a new generation of data centers.

      How has it helped my organization?

      The previous generation of networking, everything was slow, taking days to deploy and run a script. With Cisco ACI, I can deploy things with a script, then run it in five minutes.

      What is most valuable?

      • Automation
      • Developing

      What needs improvement?

      Cisco should provide more examples of code in their website. Something that other people can use. There is a great place in the development area.


      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability is not bad, but could be improved. In the beginning, we had integration problems, but now, it is more stable.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      There is a scalability path on the Cisco website. We are currently working on scaling the product.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      Cisco has a powerful technical team, which is very useful for us.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was complex.

      What about the implementation team?

      We used an international company for the deployment. My colleagues were very happy with them. The deployment happened before I joined the company.

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

      The thing that I like the most from Cisco is the support and all the documentation that they have. We do have to pay for it though.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We also considered Juniper.

      What other advice do I have?

      I would recommend Cisco ACI.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      MB
      Network Architect at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      We have seen time improvement using the product

      Pros and Cons

      • "We can implement customer requirements more quickly."
      • "In the new version of 4.0, the management groups for updating the software is not the best way to do it. It was better in 3.2."

      What is our primary use case?

      We want to automate some of the operational tasks of our team. We have many configurations and switches. In the future, we want to deploy a solution where we can configure all our switches in one place. This is why we are looking to use Cisco ACI in the future.

      How has it helped my organization?

      • A lot of our tasks in cloud projects are now done faster than before. 
      • We can implement customer requirements more quickly. 
      • Our quality has improved because we have faster visibility into when faults occurs in the network.

      What is most valuable?

      The valuable feature is its configuration policy. We can configure it because the policy is used for all the switches. We do not have to implement all the configuration on every switch. 

      Also, it fully integrates with most of our other tools, like Infoblox or vCenter, as its very powerful.

      What needs improvement?

      In the new version of 4.0, the management groups for updating the software is not the best way to do it. It was better in 3.2. There was a better overview of all the management groups with integrated switches. 

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is stable. The updates for Cisco ACI have been consistent with no failures.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      Scalability is another point for our cloud project. We use Cisco ACI, because when we expand the network another 10 to 20 switches more, the switches are easier to implement now. We  connect the new switches to the spine infrastructure, then they are the switches are ready to configure.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      Cisco technical support has been great over the last five to six years that I have worked with them. We have two open cases with them now. All issues are solved in a timely fashion. 

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

      We were previously using the Nexus 7000. We upgraded from the Catalyst environment to the Nexus environment. Now, we want to use ACI for automation and integration of third-party hardware.

      We switched to Cisco ACI because of it improvements to our operations and integrations with third-parties.

      How was the initial setup?

      At the beginning, the initial setup was complex because it was another way of networking. After the first installation, the second and third installation with ACI Fabric was a bit easier to configure.

      To install the complete ACI Fabric with all 10 to 12 switches, it takes one to two days, then it's finished. Once you configure the application, it runs. 

      What about the implementation team?

      We deployed it in-house.

      What was our ROI?

      We have seen time improvement using the product.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We did not consider any other vendors. Because in the network environment, we can only buy Cisco or Juniper. However, Juniper does not have a solution for us.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      PS
      Network Engineer at a pharma/biotech company with 1,001-5,000 employees
      Real User
      A quick, easy way to configure scripts while reducing human error

      Pros and Cons

      • "Because of its automation feature, when you configure scripts for Cisco ACI, it reduces human error."
      • "Since it is a new technology, Cisco moved all the menus. This made it tricky to use."

      What is our primary use case?

      The main purpose is to be a new data center in our company. 

      How has it helped my organization?

      Because of its automation feature, when you configure scripts for Cisco ACI, it reduces human error. It is an easy and quick way to do this.

      What is most valuable?

      • It is resilient.
      • It is the future solution for data centers.

      What needs improvement?

      Sometimes, it has been a bit hard to configure it.

      Since it is a new technology, Cisco moved all the menus. This made it tricky to use.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The product is working well. It is stable. However, the solution is a bit big for us to configure.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      Before scaling, you have to develop the scripts.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      I have not opened a ticket yet, but one of my partners says the support is good.

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

      Our previously solution was Nexus, but I prefer Cisco ACI. I think ACI is the better solution.

      How was the initial setup?

      I wasn't a part of the setup, but it was straightforward and easy.

      What about the implementation team?

      We used our partner to develop the ACI in our company. They were really good and have good engineers with a good experience.

      What other advice do I have?

      This is another way to configure your network solution. Be open-minded about it.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      MD
      Network Engineer at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      The scalability is very good, but I would still like to see a unified CLI

      Pros and Cons

      • "It has made it much easier to deploy and make changes in the data center versus the previous infrastructure, which was NX-OS based."
      • "We had issues in the first deployment when we tried to finish the migration from traditional networking to Cisco ACI."

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it for our data center.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It has made it much easier to deploy and make changes in the data center versus the previous infrastructure, which was NX-OS based.

      What is most valuable?

      • Software-defined
      • Ease of deployment
      • Ease of change
      • Ease of segmentation
      • Scalability

      What needs improvement?

      I know Cisco is trying to move away from CLI, but I would still like to see improvements to the CLI. Troubleshooting is quite difficult using other tools, and there are still quite a lot of people with the network engineer mindset who rely on CLIs. Therefore, it would be nice to have a unified CLI. They made big improvements on this last time, but it could use additional improvements.

      Here are some of the issues that we encountered:

      • We had lift switches which failed to forward traffic correctly.
      • We had issues in the first deployment when we tried to finish the migration from traditional networking to Cisco ACI.
      • We had issues with the propagation of the routes internally. Therefore, we had destinations which were reachable, but other destinations were unreachable in the same subnet.

      It took quite a lot of tries to finish the migration, because our issues were always the same. These issues were related to silent hosts.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability has been decent so far. We have ran into some issues: 50 percent hardware and 50 percent software, but we solved them quite quickly.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is very good. This is one of the best features, because you can add it at any time, then scale as needed.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      I would rate the technical support as an eight out of ten.

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

      We were at the end of the lifecycle for the previous solution, which was Cisco Nexus based. We knew that we would stay with Cisco, so the proposal came up to choose between traditional and NX-OS and ACI. Therefore, we chose Nexus 9000, which allowed us to do both. Then, it came down to a decision on which solution to go with, and we thought SDN is the future. Thus, we chose SDN (ACI mode).

      How was the initial setup?

      The setup was very straightforward. It was easy to deploy. The first configuration had issues, then adding the lift switches was easy.

      What about the implementation team?

      When we deployed, we were partnered with defense services. We had engineers on site for the couple of tries that we did for the migration. They helped us and managed to solve our issues in the end.

      What other advice do I have?

      Ensure you have the right qualifications to deploy and operate this solution, especially in the programming area.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      AJ
      Network Engineer at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      It has saved me a couple of times, as just a backup feature, but the product is still not mature

      Pros and Cons

      • "It has saved me a couple of times, as just a backup feature. It can easily do a snapshot before you do any change, and if something goes wrong, you can just rollback."
      • "It is still not mature and has room to grow. As with any product out there, it requires time to develop."

      What is our primary use case?

      Our main use case is for building data center stuff, putting in equipment and provisioning it.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It has saved me a couple of times, as just a backup feature.

      What is most valuable?

      It can easily do a snapshot before you do any change, and if something goes wrong, you can just rollback. It's pretty smooth, and it helps.

      The UI is quite intuitive.

      What needs improvement?

      It is still not mature and has room to grow. As with any product out there, it requires time to develop.

      We run into bugs from time to time. It is more from the perspective that we're not running the default configuration, so when we try to tweak it that is where we hit issues.

      The transition period when you go from standard networking to the application centric tool can be difficult because you need to understand the new terminology, but you will get through it.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      Previously, the product has had its stability issues. Now, it seems more or less okay.

      In the past, there were some bugs we ran into, but those have been solved. They took some time, and we had downtime due to them. However, we have quite a good connection with Cisco tech support.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It is scalable. We have a lot of devices. Our network have tens of thousands of devices.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      The technical support is good. We have a dedicated team from Cisco.

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

      We were moving from one data center to multiple pristine data centers. We started looking into what can we do better operational-wise. We wanted to save time when we needed to implement stuff, etc., and were looking at the latest and greatest solutions.

      What about the implementation team?

      We used a reseller for the deployment.

      What other advice do I have?

      It depends on your vision and what you want to achieve, I would recommend going for Cisco ACI. Just make sure you have time to learn and get used to the new terminology.

      We are pretty satisfied with what we have.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      George Ribarski
      Information Security Architect at Progress Software Corporation
      Real User
      It was easy to set up, because our plans for migration were very detailed

      Pros and Cons

      • "Automation is its most valuable feature."
      • "The challenging thing about Cisco ACI was we had to put a lot of effort into providing the customer the full picture, new standards, and new technology that they had to use. This was more challenging than deploying the product."

      What is our primary use case?

      The primary use case for Cisco ACI is to migrate a legacy data center, including the new infrastructure.

      The product has performed well. 

      What is most valuable?

      Automation is its most valuable feature.

      What needs improvement?

      The challenging thing about Cisco ACI was we had to put a lot of effort into providing the customer the full picture, new standards, and new technology that they had to use. This was more challenging than deploying the product.

      There should be more focus on training and support.

      I would like to see is more integration with services and service graphs.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability has been good.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The project is pretty small, but from what we have seen, it is scalable.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      There have been challenges with the technical support. Though, the product is almost three to four-years-old, there are still things that only a few people can solve. So, Cisco should put more effort into training their people.

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

      The business switched because the legacy way of operating these type of data centers is no longer optimal.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was straightforward. It was easy to set up, because our plans for migration were very detailed. We didn't have any problems with it.

      What about the implementation team?

      We are the partner and the integrator.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      It was Cisco ACI vs VMware NSX.

      Eventually, the client chose Cisco ACI because they had more experience with Cisco and they still had a lot of physical infrastructure to handle.

      What other advice do I have?

      It is one of the better solutions in the market right now.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      Gael Ravot
      Network Engineer at Etta de Vaud
      Real User
      The solution makes it easier to configure changes into our data center, but the user interface needs to be made more user-friendly

      Pros and Cons

      • "The centralized configuration is its most valuable feature."
      • "The only drawback that we are seeing is the user interface is still a little complex and difficult to use. It needs a more user-friendly interface."

      What is our primary use case?

      The primary use case is using the automation for deploying new applications in our data center.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It is now easier than before we had ACI to configure any new changes into our data center.

      What is most valuable?

      The centralized configuration is its most valuable feature.

      What needs improvement?

      The only drawback that we are seeing is the user interface is still a little complex and difficult to use. It needs a more user-friendly interface. I do not use it daily. Every time that I have to go back and configure something, it is very difficult and confusing to remember how to do it and where the menu are located.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      The stability is good.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is good.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      I have never had to open a technical support ticket.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was complex, but that was not an issue for us. The complexity was around such a big change in architecture, as there were a lot of new topics to learn.

      What about the implementation team?

      We used Cisco for the initial deployment. Our experience with them was very good. We have had someone on site regularly, which has been really helpful.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      Cisco is the only company that we seriously considered.

      What other advice do I have?

      Do not be afraid of the change that Cisco ACI requires. It takes some time to get used to it. However, in the end, it is worth it as the solution is simpler and more efficient.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      Daniele Leonardo De Fancesco
      Network and Security Engineer at Lutech Group
      Real User
      It has the fastest automation. You can move and deploy services in just a couple of minutes.

      Pros and Cons

      • "It has the fastest automation. You can move and deploy services in just a couple of minutes."
      • "I would like to see the data center unification of Cisco ACI with Cisco DNA into a single platform to deliver the data center and campus sides."

      What is our primary use case?

      We are an integrator, so we work with the finance, health, and public sectors. We use it to automate the data center infrastructure of our customers. 

      What is most valuable?

      • Its provisioning.
      • It has the fastest automation. You can move and deploy services in just a couple of minutes. 

      What needs improvement?

      Previously, the product was a little tricky to use. However, it's now a well developed platform.

      I would like to see the data center unification of Cisco ACI with Cisco DNA into a single platform to deliver the data center and campus sides.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is very stable. It has 99 percent availability.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It has large scalability. You can deploy a new pod, rack, or service in just a few of minutes instead of hours or days of work. 

      How are customer service and technical support?

      The technical support is very good. I don't use them that much because the platform is very robust and well-documented. However, in the past, we needed them a lot, and they were very useful and helpful.

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

      With previous technologies, you had to configure everything by hand: the server, the network, etc. With ACI, you can deploy a service in just a couple of minutes.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial feel of it is a little complex. Not everyone can deploy it, but if you know what you are doing, it's very simple from a technician perspective.

      What about the implementation team?

      My company is the integrator for this solution.

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

      The price could be improved. It is expensive, but then again, it is Cisco. The price is worth what you pay for.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      As an integrator, we are using the following vendors:

      • Cisco for the networking side.
      • VMware for the server side.
      • F5 for load balancers.
      • NETSCOUT for visibility.

      What other advice do I have?

      Immediately buy Cisco ACI. It will simplify your work in a way that you can't even imagine until you try it. The product does what it says it will. ACI is a robust, functional platform.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      PJ
      Network Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
      Real User
      We have been able to deploy new applications more efficiently and faster

      Pros and Cons

      • "We can support policy based on our intent, then that gets rendered into the policy that we will be using for Fabric."
      • "It is more about resolving bugs early on in the code. Otherwise, as the product gets more mature and those bugs get discovered sometimes by the customer, then Cisco will resolve them."

      What is our primary use case?

      We are putting ACI into replace the customer's legacy networks, so it's a migration project. 

      How has it helped my organization?

      We have been able to deploy new applications more efficiently and faster. 

      What is most valuable?

      We can support policy based on our intent, then that gets rendered into the policy that we will be using for Fabric.

      What needs improvement?

      It is more about resolving bugs early on in the code. Otherwise, as the product gets more mature and those bugs get discovered sometimes by the customer, then Cisco will resolve them.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is pretty good once it is in, then up and running. The stability is fine. I haven't had many issues.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The product is scalable. You can scale east-west by adding in additional leaf switches. I haven't experienced any scale issues so far, which is good.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      The technical support is good. We have Cisco SEs assigned to this project, and we have used them. They are pretty responsive. We have been happy with them. 

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

      That decision would have been made by the customer internally, but they would do a LAN upgrade and an RFP. In this case, Cisco ACI came out as the winner.

      How was the initial setup?

      It took quite a bit of time to get the design completed in advance. However, once the core ACI Fabric was in and migrated on, the initial setup is fairly easy. It's the same with any new deployment.

      What about the implementation team?

      We are the supplier to the customer and the Cisco partner. We are actually doing the implementation, and the customer hired us to do it.

      What was our ROI?

      It saves time and resources.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      The only real competitor to this product is VMware NSX.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      Anders Westermann
      Network Specialist at a comms service provider
      Real User
      The product works very well with our virtual environment

      Pros and Cons

      • "It is more scalable than our previous products."
      • "The product works very well with our virtual environment."
      • "Because this is new technology, which requires a different way of thinking, it can be hard to understand. Therefore, I would like more documentation or education."

      What is our primary use case?

      Primary use case is data center software-defined networking. We didn't have this before, so are just moving onto these new products to try to be more efficient with better performance.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It is more scalable than our previous products. 

      The product works very well with our virtual environment.

      What is most valuable?

      • Telemetry
      • Analyzing the environment.

      What needs improvement?

      Because this is new technology, which requires a different way of thinking, it can be hard to understand. Therefore, I would like more documentation or education.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is very stable. It allows us to update firmware on the go without any downtime, which we couldn't do before. Everything is redundant, so if you shutdown one system, then another one takes over.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      Its scalability is very good. It is really easy to scale in this product.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      I haven't a lot of experience with technical support for this product. My colleague has experience with the technical support and says that they are good.

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

      The old solution was outdated and not scalable. It was difficult to manage in a large scale environment. We do not have many people, so we needed to automate a lot of things. This new product helps us do that.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was pretty straightforward. It has been a new technology for us, so we had  look at the documentation and follow the instructions, which were pretty good.

      What about the implementation team?

      We used a Cisco partner who was very good, since we didn't know everything about the product from the start.

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

      The pricing is pretty good for new technology.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We only thought about Cisco because they are our primary vendor for network solutions.

      What other advice do I have?

      Receive education on the new product before you buy it, since it is pretty complex. It is not like the previous products. It has a different way of thinking. However, software-defined networking has a bright future, and it is a good idea to get onboard with it.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      Marcin Dobrzynski
      ICT Expert at Orange Polska
      Real User
      It is very stable. It works 100 percent of the time.

      What is our primary use case?

      We use this product in our services. At this moment, it performs very well.

      What is most valuable?

      It is popular. It is simple. It works 100 percent of the time.

      What needs improvement?

      We would like to have faster services and problem monitoring for our customers.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is very stable. It works 100 percent of the time. We don't have any problems at the moment.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is good. At the moment, we are using about 18 percent of the solution. In a few months, when we grow, we should be using more performance of the solution.

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

      This depends on our customers and their change…

      What is our primary use case?

      We use this product in our services. At this moment, it performs very well.

      What is most valuable?

      • It is popular.
      • It is simple.
      • It works 100 percent of the time.

      What needs improvement?

      We would like to have faster services and problem monitoring for our customers.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is very stable. It works 100 percent of the time. We don't have any problems at the moment.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      The scalability is good. At the moment, we are using about 18 percent of the solution. In a few months, when we grow, we should be using more performance of the solution.

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

      This depends on our customers and their change strategy.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial set up was complex. 

      What about the implementation team?

      We are internally integrated. The integration was simple.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We also looked at Juniper and Fortinet.

      We chose Cisco because we trust them. Cisco give us a very high level support and technical information.

      What other advice do I have?

      I would recommend Cisco ACI. This solution is the best.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      PM
      Network Architect at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      The security component is its most valuable feature

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it in our data center.

      What is most valuable?

      The security component is its most valuable feature.

      What needs improvement?

      I would like to see more integration with other Cisco products.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is a very stable product.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      I deployed it in a small environment (a lab), so I cannot comment on scalability.

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

      Going from legacy data center stuff to Cisco ACI, I saw the value it could offer the company that I was working with.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was a bit complex. ACI was just out at that time, and there wasn't support at that time. This was the first…

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it in our data center.

      What is most valuable?

      The security component is its most valuable feature.

      What needs improvement?

      I would like to see more integration with other Cisco products.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is a very stable product.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      I deployed it in a small environment (a lab), so I cannot comment on scalability.

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

      Going from legacy data center stuff to Cisco ACI, I saw the value it could offer the company that I was working with.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was a bit complex. ACI was just out at that time, and there wasn't support at that time. This was the first year it came out. The support and deployments in Africa weren't considerable and resources were a problem. I am from South Africa. So, it was something that we taught ourselves.

      There is support for it now. 

      What about the implementation team?

      It was implemented in-house.

      What was our ROI?

      We did not see ROI since this was in a lab.

      What other advice do I have?

      Get more support from Cisco, as far as the product's concerned. Training is a must.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      DR
      Network Architect at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      It can be used with different workloads and systems, making it a very flexible product

      Pros and Cons

      • "It improves security and automation."
      • "If I lose the connection from one side to the core, I can't use the other side to go to the core. I hope in the future, this will be fixed."

      What is our primary use case?

      Our primary use case is for automating our data center. We are moving from a classic legacy data center to new data center, with Cisco UCS. The first implementation will have multiple implementations, then we will move ahead with a Multi-site implementation next year. 

      How has it helped my organization?

      We are still in the development phase.

      What is most valuable?

      It improves security and automation. It is stable and provides flexibility with different workloads. It is also more powerful from a security point of view.

      What needs improvement?

      The areas for improvement are automation and user-friendliness.

      If I lose the connection from one side to the core, I can't use the other side to go to the core. I hope in the future, this will be fixed.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      Still implementing.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is very stable.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      I would rate the technical support as a nine out of ten.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup is complex, because we had to work with Cisco Professional Services to find the correct solution for our implementation.

      What about the implementation team?

      We directly used Cisco Professional Services for our implementation. They are very professional.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We investigated different products and found that ACI can be used with different workloads (e.g., legacy permits) or with different systems, like Microsoft Hyper-V. Cisco ACI is more flexible as a product.

      What other advice do I have?

      Pay attention to the implementation and interconnections between the data centers with this product. 

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      Stephane Deroch
      Network Architect at Air France
      Real User
      It is easy to add more automation processes, as it is very scalable

      Pros and Cons

      • "I have found the SDN features to be the most valuable."
      • "The product needs to be more visible on the Internet and have the ability to be integrated into more software developments."

      What is our primary use case?

      Our use case is to change our network architecture and install new free data centres for our company.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It has been able to  transverse all the processes between two companies merging into one: Air France and KLM.

      What is most valuable?

      I have found the SDN features to be the most valuable.

      What needs improvement?

      The product needs to be more visible on the Internet and have the ability to be integrated into more software developments. For example, with Amazon, you can click and deploy SDN with firmware, but not with SDI. It needs simpler process to be deployed everywhere. 

      The Multi-site is not easy to use. While Cisco has plans to change this going forward, for now, it is complex.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      One to three years.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is very stable.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It is really scalable. It is the most scalable product that I have tried.

      We have been one year on the project and it is very scalable. We have tested it in our data centres, and it's easy to add more automation processes.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      I would rate the technical support as an eight out of ten, because it can be very difficult to find the right person to provide us answers. Our project needs a lot of knowledge with very complex solutions.

      How was the initial setup?

      It has a very complex setup, because it is a complex solution. However, we have a great level of knowledge.

      What about the implementation team?

      We used Cisco directly and an integrator. We had very good experiences with both of them.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We evaluated Cisco ACI vs VMware.

      Now, I don't want to switch to another solution. I want to use this one, because it is the only solution that we tried for our use cases to unclog holes, resources, and work loads.

      What other advice do I have?

      It is a very good solution to improve architecture. Read the literature.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      Federico Nicolelli
      Network and Security Manager at a tech vendor with 1,001-5,000 employees
      Real User
      It has reduced our day-to-day operations by at least half

      Pros and Cons

      • "It has reduced our day-to-day operations by at least half."
      • "The user interface should be made easier."

      What is our primary use case?

      Our primary use case is Multi-site architecture. We run three data centers with Cisco ACI Multi-site, so the interconnections of these three sites are made with ACI.

      How has it helped my organization?

      It has reduced our day-to-day operations by at least half.

      What is most valuable?

      • Its simplicity
      • It can be automated.

      What needs improvement?

      The user interface (UI) should be made easier.

      I would like to have a multi-cloud environment, but I just read that Cisco ACI Anywhere is about to be released.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      At the moment, the stability is very good. A year and a half ago, sometimes things went wrong with it.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      We chose Cisco ACI because of its scalability.

      How are customer service and technical support?

      Their technical support is as good as their other products.

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

      We were looking for an automated solution and decided to build from scratch with Cisco ACI.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was straightforward. 

      What about the implementation team?

      We used Maticmind, which is an Italian system integrator and Cisco partner. They are very good.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We chose ACI because we have worked with Cisco for a long time and felt that there was no reason to change at the time.

      What other advice do I have?

      It is a great product. We have not encountered any problems so far. Cisco is very good to work with, and I am really happy with this product.

      I would advise to go with Cisco ACI.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      OB
      Platform Engineer at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
      Real User
      You can push scripts that you are writing now to set up connections in less than five to ten minutes

      Pros and Cons

      • "With its programmability, you can do stuff to policies to make them more flexible, allowing you to connect devices in new ways."
      • "I would like them to simplify the way you configure the Fabric. The process is quite complex. This can be a barrier to entry. For anything, where it should take two or three steps, you have ten steps"

      What is our primary use case?

      We use Cisco ACI within our four data centers, and it has been deployed in all four. They are the backbone within our data centers.

      How has it helped my organization?

      We have an old switches and catalysts. This product makes things easier. Once everything is on Fabric, their routes are bounced around within the Fabric, so you don't have to configure new switchboards or parts. It does makes it that much easier.

      What is most valuable?

      Its programmability: You can do stuff to policies to make them more flexible, allowing you to connect devices in new ways. 

      What needs improvement?

      I would like Cisco to simplify the interaction of the controller. 

      I would also like them to simplify the way you configure the Fabric. The process is quite complex. This can be a barrier to entry. For anything, where it should take two or three steps, you have ten steps.

      It took quite a bit of time to learn how to use it. The learning curve is very steep.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      Less than one year.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      Since I joined, we have had about two or three outages. Sometimes the controller to the device interaction can be problematic, but otherwise, it has been quite stable.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It is very scalable and easy to add new devices on, which is very good.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      It is possible because we have a contract with them, they are always available. Whenever I have had to talk to them, they are very responsive. When issues have happened, there have been about four or five issues, they were able to have them solved within a day or two.

      How was the initial setup?

      The initial setup was complex since these are brand new data centers. The topology for the network was different in the way it was set up.

      What about the implementation team?

      Cisco did the integration. They are still adding new things and deploying. They are doing a very good job.

      What was our ROI?

      You can push scripts that you are writing now to set up connections in less than five to ten minutes.

      Which other solutions did I evaluate?

      We also evaluated IBM.

      With the Cisco ACI technology, the programmability enables interaction. The other solutions are not really built for programmability. They don't interact with their databases directly, where Cisco ACI makes this possible. This is one of the many reasons that our organization selected it.

      What other advice do I have?

      It is a fantastic product, but train up first. In the first six months before you deploy, if you can get your hands on a demo and attend some classes or do some studies, get yourself to a place of being competent before you start.

      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
      Tabbrez Balbbale
      Security Advisor at https://globalqart,com
      Real User
      Top 20
      The ACI fabric enables any service (physical or virtual) anywhere with no need for additional software or hardware gateways

      What is our primary use case?

      • Qatar Rail: network and data center infrastructure
      • Msheireb Downtown: smart city project including infrastructure for Big Data
      • Ministry of Interior: network design based on Qatar Rail's passive infrastructure.

      How has it helped my organization?

      ACI provides network ability to deploy and respond to the needs of applications, both in the data center and in the cloud.

      What is most valuable?

      The ACI fabric supports more than 64,000 dedicated tenant networks. A single fabric can support more than one million IPv4/IPv6 endpoints, more than 64,000 tenants, and more than 200,000 10G ports. 

      The ACI fabric enables any service (physical or virtual) anywhere with no need for additional software or hardware gateways to connect between the physical and virtual services and normalizes encapsulations for virtual extensible local area network (VXLAN)/VLAN/network virtualization using generic routing encapsulation (NVGRE).

      What needs improvement?

      • Security and isolation based on the type of traffic
      • High level of resiliency.

      For how long have I used the solution?

      Three to five years.
      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      it_user302127
      Network Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
      Vendor
      The controller automatically detects new additions and scales itself, but it needs a better connection between infrastructure and logic.

      Valuable Features

      It's fully-integrated into vCenter, so we can see everything, like vMotion, and can manage fully with vCenter, as well as manage the whole network.

      Improvements to My Organization

      • It's essential for a software defined network.
      • Automated systems
      • Helps to defend policies that we've created
      • Good for automation

      Room for Improvement

      It's very new, so there's lots of bugs, and it's only good for testing with PoC customers. We're the first Canadian customers for this product.

      Infrastructure and logic should have a better connection. There's too much linkage and it's easy for people to get lost.

      Deployment Issues

      No issues with deployment.

      Stability Issues

      Again, it has lots of bugs as we're the first Canadian company for which it's been used.

      Scalability Issues

      The scalability is very good, as the controller automatically detects new additions and scales itself. It's agile because it's a cloud-based network.

      Customer Service and Technical Support

      We've used it a lot, and someone is always available because our employer is the first customer in Canada.

      Initial Setup

      It's complex, and you must go through training.

      Other Advice

      Look to similar products depending on your budget. Remember, this is in the early stages, so it's still evolving. Be sure to get training for implementation and deployment.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      it_user234747
      Practice Manager - Cloud, Automation & DevOps at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
      Real User
      It offers third party integration via OpFlex however, you can only use the Nexus 9000 series hardware for the ACI fabric.
      Originally posted at vcdx133.com. I recently completed the Cisco ACI Field Engineering course. This post describes the major building blocks of the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and how it all fits together. Cisco ACI is the next generation of Data Center flexible network fabrics, it replaces what you currently have with Nexus 2K, 5K and 7K (traditional Core, Distribution, Access or FabricPath architecture). Cisco’s previous TRILL-based leaf and spine technology is FabricPath, which has nothing to do with ACI (based upon VXLAN). The two are not compatible and unrelated, aside from supporting the Clos-type architecture. Cisco ACI is designed to provide a unified fabric for physical and virtual networking, moving away from the management of individual physical…

      Originally posted at vcdx133.com.

      I recently completed the Cisco ACI Field Engineering course. This post describes the major building blocks of the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and how it all fits together.

      Cisco ACI is the next generation of Data Center flexible network fabrics, it replaces what you currently have with Nexus 2K, 5K and 7K (traditional Core, Distribution, Access or FabricPath architecture). Cisco’s previous TRILL-based leaf and spine technology is FabricPath, which has nothing to do with ACI (based upon VXLAN). The two are not compatible and unrelated, aside from supporting the Clos-type architecture.

      Cisco ACI is designed to provide a unified fabric for physical and virtual networking, moving away from the management of individual physical switches. If you are used to the policy construction of the Cisco UCS, then you will easily understand Cisco ACI.

      The Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) has the following major components:

      • Clos-type Leaf and Spine architecture with VXLAN ECMP
      • Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) – minimum of three per fabric. The APIC has a UI but is really designed for northbound REST API integration with a Cloud Management Platform that will push policy into the ACI fabric.
      • 3rd party integration via OpFlex (open policy protocol supporting XML and JSON)
      • Nexus 9000 Product Family – 9500 series & 9300 series
      • Spine Switches – Nexus 9336 fixed chassis (“baby spine”) or 9736 line card with the 95xx chassis
      • Application Virtual Switch (AVS) – replaces the Nexus 1000V and allows APIC policy to be pushed to the vSwitch

      The diagram below illustrates the Cisco ACI Leaf and Spine architecture, complete with APIC management nodes.

      Cisco ACI is driven via policy and the main policy groups are:

      • APIC Controllers
      • Fabric, Access & Inventory
      • Tenants
      • VM Domains
      • Layer 4 to Layer 7 Services
      • AAA & Security


      Weaknesses (Cisco APIC version 1.0)

      • Can only use the Nexus 9000 series hardware for the ACI fabric. There is talk of other Nexus models and other vendors being supported in the future.
      • Only a small number of vendors support OpFlex at this point in time (eg. F5, Citrix).
      • Cisco ACI was released in 2014, it will take some time for it to gain maturity.
      • Currently does not have the concept of Micro-segmentation as a service of the hypervisor (like VMware NSX-v does).
      • ACI Fabric “Federation” (unifying multiple ACI fabrics into one) is not currently supported.
      • Single vCenter to multiple ACI fabrics is currently not supported (technically possible, but is an unsupported configuration).
      • Operationally complex without a Cloud Management Platform to push policy, which is true for any network virtualisation solution.
      • Current supported CMPs are OpenStack and Cisco UCS Director.
      • QoS enforcement within the ACI fabric is currently not supported.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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