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.


Balaji Sivasubramanian

Director, Product Management