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Introducing Cisco Application Virtual Switch – Extending Virtual Networking to Applications

Cisco has been the leader in virtual networking since the introduction of Nexus 1000V virtual switch more than 5 years ago.  Now it is time to make the virtual network more application aware.  With the introduction of the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), we are pleased to introduce the Application Virtual Switch (AVS), the virtual network edge of the Cisco ACI -enabled network that includes the Nexus 9000 series of switches.

In the ACI architecture, applications drive networking behavior, not the other way around. Pre-defined application requirements and descriptions (“policy templates”) automate the provisioning of the network – virtual and physical, application services, security policies, tenant subnets and workload placement. Automating the provisioning of the complete application network reduces IT costs, reduces errors, accelerates deployment and makes the business more agile.

Application Virtual Switches are the purpose-built, hypervisor-resident virtual network edge switches designed for the ACI fabric. They provide consistent virtual networking across multiple hypervisors to simplify network operations and provide consistency with the physical infrastructure.

  • AVS is robustly integrated into the ACI architecture and supports Application Network Profile (ANP) enforcement at the virtual host layer consistent with the Nexus 9000 series physical switches.
  • AVS is managed centrally along with rest of the ACI fabric components through the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) and provides advanced telemetry features to allow end-to-end visibility and troubleshooting capabilities across both virtual and physical devices, .
  • AVS enables optimal traffic steering between virtual and physical layers of the fabric to maximize performance and resource utilization. For example, if the web and app tier are located on the same host, AVS can route traffic or apply security policies between these end point groups within the hypervisor itself.  On the other hand, if the database is a bare metal workload that is attached to the physical Nexus 9000, the application policy is consistently applied at the physical Nexus 9000 top of rack switches instead.
Application Centric Infrastructure with Application Virtual Switch

Application Centric Infrastructure with Application Virtual Switch

ACI eliminates the operational complexity of differences in managing virtualized environments vs. bare metal or legacy environments. It provides a consistent operational model across both AVS and Nexus 9000 respectively.  ACI also allows for flexibility of placement of application workloads based on application requirements. Watch this short video.

Finally, if you are wondering how AVS compares to our Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch family, you are not alone.  Nexus 1000V is a very successful virtual networking solution that has 8000+ customers and continues to be targeted at  traditional fabrics, including the Nexus 9000 in standalone mode (without ACI support) and Dynamic Fabric Automation fabrics.

AVS, on the other hand, is purpose-built for the ACI fabric.  We will provide easy migration tools, as well as Cisco Technology Migration Program (CTMP) credits, for existing Nexus 1000V Advanced Edition customers when they are ready to migrate to the ACI fabric-based network. Your investments in Nexus 1000V will be protected through an ACI-upgrade.

Comparison of Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch and Application Virtual Switch

Comparison of Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch and Application Virtual Switch

In summary, the AVS is the virtual network edge for the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure to provide consistent application policy enforcement for virtual workloads and provides unprecedented end-to-end visibility for applications in your data center. We are thrilled to continue to innovate and lead in the virtual networking space now in conjunction with ACI as we continue to innovate Nexus 1000V for more traditional network deployments.

For more information,  visit the Cisco Application Virtual Switch page.

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  1. I’d like to know more about the path that Cisco pursued to evolve towards an “application aware” architecture. This back-story (how Cisco arrived at this juncture) would be very insightful to both industry analysts and customers. Here’s some of the key questions on my mind.

    – What were the primary roadblocks that inhibited the adoption of this innovative approach in the past?

    – A purpose-built hardware solution seems to be the road less traveled, because it requires a greater R&D investment. Why did Cisco take this approach, and decide against using one of the alternatives?

    – What legacy design challenges did Cisco have to overcome, before it could attain the advantages of the ACI fabric orchestration model?

    I would appreciate it if you could share these details in a follow-on blog post. It would help to fully understand why Cisco specifically chose a solution deployment methodology that’s somewhat different from competitors. Thanking you in advance for your consideration.

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your great feedback and questions. We will keep these in mind for future blog posts.


  2. Cisco has definitely had the Nexus 1Kv in the market. It would be good to see market share data that outlines the various leaders in virtual networking. Not sure if Cisco has had a leadership role in virtual networking?

    • Cisco has been the first to build sophisticated virtual networking with the Nexus 1000V – 5 years ago and innovated on VXLAN and vPath as well as consistent cross-hypervisor virtual networking. I will refer you to my previous post for some background. Market share numbers are little difficult to track. We have more than 8500 paying customers and that shows our wide adoption in the market.