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Introducing the Cisco ACI App Center

- September 15, 2016 - 19 Comments

Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) was designed from the very beginning with a foundation of openness, extensibility and programmability.

Building on this foundation,  we are very excited to introduce the Cisco ACI App Center.  With this new ACI capability, customers, developers, and partners will be able to build apps to simplify, enhance, and better visualize their use cases – similar to what is done in mobile world apps today.

We would like to invite all of you to develop and share your applications with the ACI community.  These apps will be hosted and shared at the “Cisco ACI App Center” and will be downloaded and installed in the APIC controller.

Azeem Suleman, Cisco Principal Architect, states, “Originally your smartphone performed phone functions like voice calling and text messaging. Now with third party applications (Apps), your smartphone becomes a part of your life with apps like collaboration, health, stocks, maps, etc.  Think of mobile as an infra, and apps are enabling smartness.”

I’m sure, I just left you thinking, what apps could there be in networking? I can’t execute a stocks app in networking, right?  Well, here are some thoughts to guide you in that direction:

  1. Security compliance reporting as always requested by Security Auditors
  2. Visualization of security policies (contracts) and traffic maps across tiers
  3. How many virtualized and non-virtualized hosts are in the infrastructure and where are they spread?
  4. Traffic hot spots in the fabric.
  5. And the list goes on …

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth more than a hundred thousand.

Introducing Cisco ACI App Center Video

The APIC will provide a local App repository under the new “App” tab where APIC admins can pick and choose which App is to be installed onto their fabric. These apps can have a GUI front-end, back-end processes with retained state, and their own APIs. The APIC infrastructure will provide support for High Availability, replicated state, Role-Based Access and Control (RBAC), and Single Sign-On for the Apps it runs. Further, the APIC will have a reservation policy to control the amount of CPU/memory/storage these apps can consume to ensure smooth running of fundamental ACI operations.

Our App Center portal will provide an automated process to allow you to register yourself, upload your application for approval and digital signing, and to distribute the approved apps.  Users will be able to view available apps along with their ratings, reviews and comments.  Support for the apps themselves will come from each of the App developers.  The initial release – targeted for early calendar Q1 2017 – will not provide monetization capability on the App Center itself, but it won’t prevent you from charging directly if you desire to attach a fee for licensing your app.

Cisco ACI App Center GUI

Cisco ACI App Center GUI

For our customers who develop their apps for their own local consumption, they will be able to install their apps directly on their APIC local App repository without needing to go through the ACI App Center and signing process.

Below are some of our Cisco reseller partners that have built custom value added applications (Figure 5a-5d) or have tested and validated them as part of our registration and approval process (Figure 5e).


AppCenter5

GDT App Profile Browser

  • The application displays a graphical representation of all the tenants and associated application profiles and EPGs contained within the APIC.
  • Provides a zoomable interface delivering a unique user experience when interacting with ACI components.

Figure 5a

 

 


GIT integration for ACI AppCenter6

  • Manage tenant profiles as code
  • Sync ACI tenant profiles with GIT
  • Integrating ACI into Agile / DevOps release management workflow

Figure 5b

 

 

 


Security Reporter

AppCenter7

  • Detailed Reports on Tenants, VRFs, Service Graphs, Contracts, etc.
  • Provides a centralized dashboard for auditors and compliance reporting

Figure 5c

 

 

 


 

Automated Security ManagementAppCenter8

  • ACI Integration With Phantom
  • Execute Playbooks Against Security Incidents

Figure 5d

 

 

 


Testing & Validation

  • ACI App installation testing and validationAppCenter9

Figure 5e


We want to thank our partners GDT, Dimension Data, Kovarus, WWT, and Netnuvem for their contributions.

We look forward to hearing from more of our partners and customers for ACI app ideas to enhance your ACI experience. For additional information, please send your inquiries by email to APIC-App-Center@cisco.com until the official App Center is launched. We would also love to hear ideas of possible apps to enhance your ACI deployments.

Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement for general availability of the ACI App Center in the near future and join the ACI revolution.

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19 Comments

  1. Hello Praveen, Thanks for your leadership and writing a great blog, while recognizing our 5 beachhead partners who stepped-up and contributed to the initial wave of Apps for the ACI App Center! Glad to be part of core-team and working "full-speed!" towards the Q1CY17 external launch! Regards, Salman Asadullah CTO, Americas Partner Organization Distinguished Engineer, Cisco Systems

      Thanks Salman for great collaboration in making this happen.

    Thanks for this information. I wish great success to Cisco ACI App Center.

      Thank you Dr Jose.

  2. This is a great step in the maturity model for customers. No other vendors can provide a stacked approach, which helps Enterprises to minimize the gap between networking and applications. Question, is there still a gap??

  3. This is a great step in the maturity model for customers. No other vendor can provide a stacked approach, which helps Enterprises to minimize the gap between networking and applications. Question, is there still a gap??

      Thank you Patrick. We continue to bridge these gaps as we learn unique cases from our customers.

  4. The Revolution is now global and it gets better and better! Cisco ACI proves again that it's a network that pushes beyond the network boundaries! The future is limitless therefore this is only a begenning! Great work!

      Thank you Martin. Thank you for being an ACI customer and providing your valuable feedback to continue to evolve this journey.

  5. "Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) was designed from the very beginning with a foundation of openness, extensibility and programmability" You lost me here, this is a proprietary fabric that doesn't talk to any other vendors hardware. ACI has some merit but please call it as it is.

      Hi Andy Your information is completely wrong. Cisco ACI connects with any vendor's hardware using standard Ethernet, VLAN, VxLAN, routing protocols etc etc. Please contact a Cisco sales rep for details.

    Good Job.

      Thank you Rogilloyd

    Extremely interesting.

      Thank you Carlo.

  6. Great. Congrates Praveen and thanks for very informative blog.

      Thank you very much.

    ACI App installation testing and validation. Can you elaborate more on the netnuvem app. Thanks for sharing

      Hi Olumayowa, Very good question. What I didn't mention in my blog is that we do want to have some basic validations of apps as they are uploaded by developers to make sure the apps pass security checks etc. It will evolve over time. Netnuvem has been helping to provide that test suites. For more details please send mail to apic-app-center@cisco.com.

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