Resources

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)

White Paper

Challenge

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), is a software-defined datacenter solution that allows customers to design large scale, highly available, secure, agile and policy-driven network infrastructure. The SevOne Digital Infrastructure Management Platform combines polled/ collected metrics, and logs to provide complete visibility into how the Cisco ACI solution is performing in real-time.

A Cisco ACI network provides reliability, security and optimal application performance driven by automation. Together, the SevOne Platform and Cisco ACI provide real-time inventory and performance metrics from the Cisco ACI northbound API’s and also through metrics gathered by SNMP and log messages sent from the ACI solution. This information helps operations understand changes going on at the virtual level (e.g. virtual machine creation or deletion), along with physical hardware performance, so they have a complete picture of overall datacenter performance.

Managing the performance of a large-scale network was challenging enough when the infrastructure was fairly static. Now, the Cisco ACI solution enhances that challenge even further, by allowing users to more easily scale out their networks by automating the provisioning of policies and paths through the network. Fortunately, when integrated with Cisco ACI, SevOne automatically monitors new switches or virtual entities as they come online and immediately monitors their performance in the context of how they were provisioned.

Transitioning from a legacy, static-based network to one that is policy-driven adds enhanced features and levels of security and availability. However, customers are often left with two networks — both of which need to be managed. SevOne provides insights into the legacy and the new software-defined network with performance metrics from both in a single dashboard or even on the same graph within a dashboard. This reduces risk as the migration occurs.

The level of automation, availability and performance Cisco ACI brings to users is applicable in Enterprise, Service Provider and Managed Service Providers. Whether you’re a small enterprise or a large service provider, you want to ensure 100 percent availability for the applications that transit your network. Automating the rollout of new resources, ensuring configuration consistency, and providing enhanced application security are additional benefits.

Features and Benefits

The integration of the SevOne Platform and Cisco ACI provides a real-time view into the performance of the existing network and new ACI infrastructure, and alerts operators when performance is not optimal or when a change in the network is made. Using polled metrics via the Cisco ACI northbound API and SNMP combined with logs, SevOne provides unprecedented insights into application performance. When a performance event happens, statistics and notices are sent via the API and logs to SevOne to inform operators of the event.

SevOne’s ability to combine polled metrics and syslog messages at scale, along with alerting when any performance anomalies occur in real-time, provides valuable insights into how the network is being utilized. These insights allow operations to validate if the policies they’ve put in place are having the desired effect. Any changes in the environment are immediately alerted on, whether they’re generated by a polled value or a message in a log file.

The ability to see the performance of both the physical and virtual networks is critical to operations. SevOne’s collection and alerting abilities help users get the insight they need in real-time, while enabling them to validate operations procedures as they maintain the network. SevOne’s year-long historical reporting and analytic features help network planners with sizing the next set of physical or logical resources that might be needed to deliver an application. Lastly, easy-to-use reporting and report creation dramatically cut the time it takes to install and gain value from the SevOne Platform.

Solution Overview

The SevOne Platform uses metrics and syslog messages to gather all the key performance metrics used in a Cisco ACI deployment. Metrics from SNMP include physical interface state and CPU utilization. API derived metrics provide information on volume, type and latency of application traffic as it passes across the network. Syslog messages happen when an event occurs that might cause an issue with either the infrastructure (e.g. power supply failure) or when a configuration change has failed.

SevOne’s ability to scale with deployments allows all the metrics to be gathered from the entire ACI infrastructure, no matter how large the datacenter. All the information is then available in real-time in a dashboard or as a performance alert. Performance alerts could occur when a metric, or a log value is above or below its normal value or out of a tolerance configured manually.

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Use Cases

Enterprise

Enterprise networks carry business critical data 24/7, 365 days a year. With the large-scale growth datacenter networking becomes very complex. Cisco ACI allows the network team to automate the creation of new applications on top of virtual and physical network infrastructure, thereby reducing the time it takes to build out the network. But when things don’t work properly, the level of complexity can be daunting. The SevOne Platform helps IT understand both the physical network and the virtual network, including the virtual machine inventory and partner NFV devices, in real-time and then provides analytics to pinpoint where issues might arise.

MSP / CSP

The Cisco ACI platform allows Managed Service Providers and Communication Service Providers to economically build, configure and run hyper-scale datacenters. The ACI platform can scale to 10’s of thousands of physical ports with low latency data transit between all of them. Policy-driven configurations allow multiple customers and many different applications to transit the network with complete isolation. The SevOne Platform has the ability to gather all the statistical data and present it in a per customer/per application manner or allow an administrator of the platform to see all the performance statistics in a single screen.