Improving Observability of Network Orchestration and Policy Management through Cisco Nexus Dashboard and Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator

More than ever, applications are critical for all global organizations. Applications and the data they carry are at the heart of digital transformation, providing not only essential back-office systems of record but also increasing frontline systems of engagement. As businesses grow, it is imperative to have agility in applications – to have the ability to move applications wherever the business needs them, and to be sure that network security policies follow.  With the unprecedented changes brought on this year around the world, organizations see the necessity of having a connected and secure data center, wherever the data may exist.

One of the key innovations in 2020 from Cisco to mark that fundamental shift was the introduction of the Intent Based Networking (IBN) multidomain enabler, the Cisco Nexus Dashboard. It delivers unprecedented simplicity by integrating multiple data center operational tools, unleashing best in class automation and insights, from a single pane of glass to manage, monitor and troubleshoot the entire network from on-premises to cloud

Cisco Nexus Dashboard now supports on-boarding of Cisco NX-OS/DCNM sites. Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator (MSO) allows operators to realize a true hybrid cloud scenario, defining, and orchestrating network policy across DCNM, ACI, cloud and edge across domains. MSO will also be the first application to work across both Cisco ACI and DCNM sites making Nexus Dashboard a single pane of glass across Cisco ACI/APIC and Cisco NX-OS/DCNM controllers.


Network Orchestration and Policy Management

Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator (MSO) provides consistent network and policy orchestration, scalability, and disaster recovery across multiple data centers through a single pane of glass while allowing the data center to go wherever the data is.

Multi Site Orchestrator
Figure 1: Cisco Multi Site Orchestrator


MSO allows you to interconnect separate Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (Cisco ACI®) sites, Cisco Cloud ACI sites, and Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) sites, each managed by its own controller (APIC cluster, DCNM cluster, or Cloud APIC instances in a public cloud). The on-premises sites (ACI or DCNM in the future) can be extended to different public clouds for hybrid-cloud deployments or for cloud-first multi-cloud-only deployments between cloud sites that do not have an on-premises site.

The single-pane interconnect network policy management and the consistent workload network and segmentation policy provided by MSO allows monitoring the health of the interconnected fabrics, enforcement of segmentation and security policies, and performance of all tasks required to define tenant intersite policies in APIC, DCNM, and Cloud APIC sites.


Common Use Cases

There are several uses of Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator. Some of the main use cases include:

Large scale data center deployment

Some users require a Software-Defined-Network (SDN)–based data center solution that consists of a higher number of leaf switches (for example, 20,000) with a single management console for provisioning, orchestration, and policy consistency. Cisco MSO can meet these requirements to help build these large-scale data centers through:

  • Easy provisioning and orchestration
  • Disaster recovery and high availability
  • Enhanced scale
  • Business continuity

Data center interconnectivity

Cisco MSO extends intersite connectivity and network policy segmentation between loosely coupled data centers across multiple geographies, enabling agile deployment of where policies and security follow the movement of virtual machines across data centers. In addition, it enhances disaster recovery or active-active use cases spread across multiple sites and locations.

Cisco MSO multidomain integrations

Large and medium-sized organizations that have adopted a multi-site approach to their data centers have experienced performance degradation with unmanaged connections between the separate data centers. To assist customers with managing this, Cisco MSO has been integrated with Cisco’s SD-WAN.

Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud

Cisco MSO expands networking functions to cloud sites and automates the creation of overlay connectivity between all sites (on premises and in the public cloud).

As the central orchestrator of intersite policies, Cisco MSO allows for pushing the same policies to multiple data centers and public clouds across the globe in a single step.

Cisco MSO supports Cisco ACI policy extensions to the public cloud (AWS and Azure), allowing for hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud deployments. In both cases, MSO enables automated and secure interconnect provisioning, consistent policy enforcement for on-premises sites and the public cloud, and simplified operations for end-to-end visibility.

Service provider – 5G telco

5G transformations are challenging telecom providers to develop data-center networks of the future that can seamlessly scale, automate, and integrate their infrastructure from the central data center to the edge and across the transport network.

Cisco MSO provides:

  • Automation of SR-MPLS policies that can be centrally orchestrated across the 5G telco cloud sites (central, regional, and edge data centers).
  • Consistent SR-MPLS handoff transport and application slice interworking between 5G telco cloud sites and the service provider’s transport backbone.

What’s New in MSO 3.2

Cisco Nexus Dashboard provides a single automation platform to access data center network operational services and tools. With Cisco MSO 3.2, you can deploy Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator using the Cisco Nexus Dashboard platform.

Nexus Dashboard
Figure 2: MSO on Nexus Dashboard


Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) is the network management platform for all NX-OS–enabled deployments, spanning new fabric architectures, IP Fabric for Media, and storage networking deployments. It provides automation, visibility, and consistency within a DCNM-clustered fabric. MSO now enables network policy consistency and disaster recovery across multiple DCNM fabrics around the world through a single pane of glass and scale-out DCNM leaf switches to thousands of switches managed using one centralized policy.

Figure 3: Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator for DCNM


The Future of Network Orchestration and Policy Management

Organizations are having to rapidly adapt to a changing world. They must be agile and automated.

Through a single pane of glass, Cisco Multi-Site Orchestrator (MSO) provides consistent network and automated policy orchestration, scalability, and disaster recovery across multiple data centers allowing the data center to go wherever the data is.

Cisco Data Center Networking Demo Series

Register now for our upcoming webinars to meet our technical experts, and to experience the ease of network orchestration and policy management. Bring your questions and learn more about the trends that are helping drive digital growth. We look forward to your participation and an active discussion.


Register for Webinar
Tuesday, February 16th 2021


Adam Ozkan

Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure