• 07/29/2014
    9:08 AM
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Cisco Ships APIC Controller, Reveals ACI Pricing

The key piece of Cisco's ACI strategy will ship July 31, along with new ACI starter kits. The company also made the ACI price list public.

The long awaited centerpiece of Cisco's software-defined networking platform, the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), is scheduled to ship Thursday, July 31.

Cisco launched its Application Centric Infrastructure  (ACI) platform in November, along with new Nexus 9000 switches that can run in ACI mode with a software upgrade. Since then, the company has talked a lot about its ACI vision and launched other form factors in the Nexus 9000 line, but customers have been waiting for APIC, a centralized management controller that pushes policies out to the network.

Cisco said Tuesday that it will ship APIC as an appliance in two versions, one that supports fewer than 1,000 10 Gb leaf ports for $40,293, and the other supporting more than 1,000 10 Gb leaf ports for $58,017. Cisco said it's shipping APIC as an appliance instead of software in order to make it easy to use for customers, said Director of Product Management Thomas Scheibe in an interview.

Other ACI pieces that will ship Thursday include ACI line cards and software for the Nexus 9508 modular spine switch, which has been available since November. In addition, ACI software will be available for the Nexus 93128TX and 9396PX fixed leaf switches, also previously available.

The company said ACI will be priced on a per-leaf, perpetual ACI software license. There is no separate software license for APIC. Taking aim at competitor VMware, Cisco emphasized that there will be no per-month, per-virtual machine cost for ACI.

VMware released pricing for its NSX network virtualization platform last month. VMware NSX can be bought with either a perpetual or term license. List pricing for a perpetual license starts at $5,995 per CPU, and list price for a term license starts at $34 per VM per month, with volume discounts available, according to a VMware spokesman. vCloud Suite customers can buy a NSX add-on for $3,495.

On Tuesday, Cisco also announced four versions of a basic ACI "starter kit" that is designed to help customers with proof-of-concept lab deployments or to create an "ACI pod" in their data center that connects with existing Nexus 2000, 5000, and 7000 switches and extends ACI policies to that infrastructure.

Bundles include APIC, two fixed or modular spine switches, two or four leaf switches, leaf licenses, and cables to connect the spines with the leaf switches. Pricing for the bundles starts at $250,000. They will be available Thursday.

A report released Monday by Infonetics showed that enterprise SDN planning is well under way. Of the 101 North American enterprises surveyed, 45% plan to have SDN in live production in the data center next year. By 2016, that number grows to 87%.

The top three SDN vendors that survey participants said they're evaluating were Cisco, VMware, and IBM.

"Cisco was initially a little slow to get on bandwagon with the SDN transformation," Cliff Grossner, directing analyst at Infonetics, said in an interview. "They've seen the industry is in a transformation and want something different. They realize going forward software and services is going to be where the value is, more than pre-built hardware boxes that are closed and not expandable."



Anyone have thoughts on ACI pricing compared to VMware NSX?

Re: pricing

I am more interested with the overall functionality and capabilities of both solution. Vmware NSX and Cisco ACI. One of them bring all the intelligence to the edge and despite the all the argument about manageability in my opinion it gives this ability for troubleshoting , maintenance for the underlaying infrastructure and beyond it gives an information for proactive control and management.

It would be nice to see that ACI supports on all the platforms of Cisco but again in my opinion ACI policy enforcement place should have been started from the very edge of the network and controller would be a virtual format , not as an applicance or even not as a virtualized context so on..

APIC equals SDN controller?

Cisco has its own terminology and its own emphasis, but the APIC sounds a lot like the software-defined network's controller unit. We owe thanks to the newcomers and startups who throught through how the network could be reformed around programmable interfaces, including those at VMware. But now all that remains to be seen is how much of the market is left to them after networking professionals line up behind Cisco. Am I being too pessimistic?


Re: APIC equals SDN controller?

Hard to say. As the Infonetics polls showed, VMware had a very strong showing when it came to which SDN vendors organizations are evaluating, It seems like the attention VMware NSX grabbed isn't ebbing. How much that translates to purchases of course remains to be seen. 

Re: APIC equals SDN controller?

Or does it?

For months Cisco has been touting ACI as anything but SDN, in effect it was a highly reactive response to SDN in which they've come out the otherside incomplete and incoherent, just one of the reasons why the majority of network pro's will struggle with ACI concepts.

Unfortunately, there is a level of creative thinking the average network pro just doesn't possess, which is why the majority will probably rally behind NSX. Notwithstanding that networking vendors have been pandering more towards application developers over the past few years.

Overall I would not be compelled to pay for either, especially when you've got solutions like OpenContrail, Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2, which equates to very much the same thing, but for FREE!

Re: APIC equals SDN controller?

You raise an important point about the free options. Would you include the OpenDaylight Project's Hydrogen as a viable alternative?