Introducing the Cisco ACI App Center
Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) was designed from the very beginning with a foundation of openness, extensibility and programmability.
Building on this foundation, we are very excited to introduce the Cisco ACI App Center. With this new ACI capability, customers, developers, and partners will be able to build apps to simplify, enhance, and better visualize their use cases – similar to what is done in mobile world apps today.
We would like to invite all of you to develop and share your applications with the ACI community. These apps will be hosted and shared at the “Cisco ACI App Center” and will be downloaded and installed in the APIC controller.
Azeem Suleman, Cisco Principal Architect, states, “Originally your smartphone performed phone functions like voice calling and text messaging. Now with third party applications (Apps), your smartphone becomes a part of your life with apps like collaboration, health, stocks, maps, etc. Think of mobile as an infra, and apps are enabling smartness.”
I’m sure, I just left you thinking, what apps could there be in networking? I can’t execute a stocks app in networking, right? Well, here are some thoughts to guide you in that direction:
- Security compliance reporting as always requested by Security Auditors
- Visualization of security policies (contracts) and traffic maps across tiers
- How many virtualized and non-virtualized hosts are in the infrastructure and where are they spread?
- Traffic hot spots in the fabric.
- And the list goes on …
The APIC will provide a local App repository under the new “App” tab where APIC admins can pick and choose which App is to be installed onto their fabric. These apps can have a GUI front-end, back-end processes with retained state, and their own APIs. The APIC infrastructure will provide support for High Availability, replicated state, Role-Based Access and Control (RBAC), and Single Sign-On for the Apps it runs. Further, the APIC will have a reservation policy to control the amount of CPU/memory/storage these apps can consume to ensure smooth running of fundamental ACI operations.
Our App Center portal will provide an automated process to allow you to register yourself, upload your application for approval and digital signing, and to distribute the approved apps. Users will be able to view available apps along with their ratings, reviews and comments. Support for the apps themselves will come from each of the App developers. The initial release – targeted for early calendar Q1 2017 – will not provide monetization capability on the App Center itself, but it won’t prevent you from charging directly if you desire to attach a fee for licensing your app.
Cisco ACI App Center GUI
For our customers who develop their apps for their own local consumption, they will be able to install their apps directly on their APIC local App repository without needing to go through the ACI App Center and signing process.
Below are some of our Cisco reseller partners that have built custom value added applications (Figure 5a-5d) or have tested and validated them as part of our registration and approval process (Figure 5e).
GDT App Profile Browser
- The application displays a graphical representation of all the tenants and associated application profiles and EPGs contained within the APIC.
- Provides a zoomable interface delivering a unique user experience when interacting with ACI components.
GIT integration for ACI
- Manage tenant profiles as code
- Sync ACI tenant profiles with GIT
- Integrating ACI into Agile / DevOps release management workflow
- Detailed Reports on Tenants, VRFs, Service Graphs, Contracts, etc.
- Provides a centralized dashboard for auditors and compliance reporting
Automated Security Management
- ACI Integration With Phantom
- Execute Playbooks Against Security Incidents
Testing & Validation
- ACI App installation testing and validation
We want to thank our partners GDT, Dimension Data, Kovarus, WWT, and Netnuvem for their contributions.
We look forward to hearing from more of our partners and customers for ACI app ideas to enhance your ACI experience. For additional information, please send your inquiries by email to APIC-App-Center@cisco.com until the official App Center is launched. We would also love to hear ideas of possible apps to enhance your ACI deployments.
Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement for general availability of the ACI App Center in the near future and join the ACI revolution.