Cisco ACI is gaining momentum and mindshare in the industry as testified by the 160 plus licensees for the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), and 900 plus customers for the Nexus 9k platform. All of this in less than three months since going live in August 2014. Riding on that wave of success, we are pleased to announce the Cisco ACI Simulator, a physical appliance that provides a simulated Cisco ACI environment. The appliance is a full-featured Cisco APIC controller software along with a simulated fabric infrastructure of leaf switches and spine switches in one physical server.
If you wondered how it is going to help you, think of it as a self-contained environment with Cisco APIC instances with real production software. You can use it to quickly understand ACI features, exercise APIs, and initiate integration with third-party orchestration systems and applications. The ACI simulator will also allow you to use the native command line CLI and GUI via APIs that are available for third-parties. If you are a developer or Cisco partner, this is an ideal way to develop and test your solution. If you are a customer, you can use this in your test lab to create profiles for your enterprise apps with your actual application delivery controllers and security devices. This belongs in any well-architected DevOps environment.
Topology of the simulator
The Cisco ACI Simulator enables you to simulate the Cisco ACI fabric, including the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches supported in a leaf-and-spine topology, to take full advantage of an automated, policy-based, systems management approach. Specifically, the ACI simulator environment comprises 2 ACI spines, 2 ACI leafs, and 3 APIC controllers.
The Cisco ACI Simulator includes simulated switches, so you cannot validate the data path. However, some of the simulated switch ports are mapped to the front-panel server ports which allows you to connect external management entities such as VMware ESX servers, VMware vCenter, VMware vShield, and bare-metal servers; Layer 4 through 7 services; authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) systems; and other physical and virtual service appliances. In addition, the Cisco ACI Simulator allows simulation of faults and alerts to facilitate testing and demonstrate features.
The ACI simulator provides a variety of features and benefits, key ones summarized in the table below.
|Fabric Management||Topology view, Fabric discovery|
|Creation of network constructs||Build a tenant, private layer 3 network, bridged domain|
|Specify Cisco ACI policy constructs||Create Filters, Contracts|
|Application deployment||create Application Network Profiles, End-point groups|
|Virtualization Integration||VMware ESXi, vCenter, vshield|
|L4-L7 services integration||Cisco ASA/ASAv, Citrix NetScaler and F5 BIG-IP|
|Monitoring and troubleshooting||View faults, events, managed objects etc through GUI|
|Programmability with Northbound API clients||Python, REST APIS with JSON & XML bindings, PowerShell etc|
Additionally, please refer to the Cisco ACI compatibility matrix for a full list of supported capabilities and the Datasheet for detailed specifications. In closing, I want to bring to your attention to the general availability of APIC release 1.0(2i) and Cisco NX-OS release 11.0(2i) for Cisco Nexus 9000 Series ACI-Mode Switches. This release delivers new hardware and software capabilities that will further the customer momentum we are seeing with ACI.
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