Recently, Network World said ACI is the market leader for number of SDN deployments. Let’s take a moment to consider what that means and why it’s the case. First, there is the obvious, in that over 1,800 customers have selected ACI as their Software Defined Network solution. But beyond that, what is it about ACI that is causing people to adopt it?

There is the standard generic, corporate Cisco stuff – a financially robust corporation, you know the company will be around, good overall support from the TAC, there’s a strong track record of Cisco taking care of its customers, etc.   I don’t mean to be flippant in my characterization of these items, because they are significant considerations and real differentiators. But lets discuss some of the key reasons for ACI specifically. If we look across multiple customers, we find some recurring themes regarding the things they find value in.

  1. ACI is a turnkey solution that simplifies deployment, management and troubleshooting.

The integration of the controller, infrastructure and third party elements – e.g. orchestration tools, L4-7 devices, etc. – provides a comprehensive system that ultimately simplifies rolling out and operating the customer’s SDN and overall data center/cloud environment.

  1. ACI has a large ecosystem of partners providing customer flexibility and choice.

There are currently over 50 ecosystem partners, providing a broad spectrum of functionality. This extensive integration delivers customer choice and interoperability, while decreasing costs and increasing innovation. Because ACI is designed as an open architecture, this means that customers can extend their existing IT investments. 

  1. ACI is a sound financial investment, providing rapid return via multiple metrics across many customers.

The Network World article, as well as the video referenced below highlight several of these including Symantec’s 11 month payback and Pulsant’s 85% reduction in staff time for provisioning. See more in the resources below.

  1. ACI provides a comprehensive, integrated approach regardless of endpoint type.

ACI’s policy model seamlessly supports heterogeneous physical and virtual endpoints. This means that any given policy will apply to bare metal servers, virtual servers on any hypervisor, or containers. ACI is pretty much endpoint agnostic.

  1. ACI provides strong automation capabilities.

The policy model is also at the foundation of ACI’s automation capabilities. The application based policy model drives speed through automation, reducing errors and accelerating application deployment and IT processes from weeks to minutes.

These 5 themes were covered in more detail across these 5 places (among others) in the past week or so:

The Network World article by Zeus Kerravala, industry analyst at ZK Research

Blog by Frank Palumbo, Cisco SVP of Global Data Center Sales (check out the video)

Press Release on Service Providers using Cisco ACI

Blog profiling Hutchinson Networks, Cisco ACI customer

Light Reading article by Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief at Light Reading

If you’d like to see additional customer feedback regarding ACI, check out this blog.   The focus there was on how ACI delivers speed, simplicity and security. These elements map right into the 5 themes above and provide perspectives from another group of customers.

In any case, thanks for taking the time to read about 5 of the (many) reasons Cisco ACI is the market leader for SDN.

Image source: Pixabay


Craig Huitema

No Longer with Cisco