Cisco is an undisputed IT industry leader. According to analysts, the company dominates the worldwide data switching market with more than 50% of the market share. Their innovative technical leadership makes the lives of many IT professionals easier and better.

Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is their software defined networking (SDN) solution for cloud and data center infrastructure.  It’s a great solution for application agility and data center automation. However, managing these complex environments can be a challenge—especially in the world of ever-changing business technology that’s often built up in layers over time.

Best Practice

To get the most from your ACI, it’s best practice to make your network policy-driven. This means that you’ll have to define contracts, policies, and rules that determine which resources can communicate, and what they can talk about.  It’s both a management and security issue that all ACI users tackle. However, defining your Cisco ACI contracts or SDN policies isn’t easy. You’ve got to know what your applications really look like to define their contracts.

Since it’s not a good idea to just allow any traffic in your ACI environment, and defining contracts requires a detailed understanding of applications, most organizations often have no choice when implementing or managing ACI but to methodically and manually work through one application component at a time to determine their detailed structure and function.

This is OK if your application is small and you have a lot of technical knowledge about each component. However, for complex applications that were built over time by multiple people—and most of us know that these are not at all uncommon—the technical knowledge you have may be incorrect, incomplete or unavailable. If you have documentation, it may be out of date or simply wrong. So, back to the slow process…

Automate for ACI

Thankfully, muddling through like this isn’t the only answer. There is another way. There’s new software tooling that can get you the insight you need quickly and without so much manual effort.

iQCloud by iQuate automatically discovers all your applications as well as the underlining infrastructure. It auto-groups them into unique business services, too, so that you have the right context for them. iQCloud does this by capturing the running software (processes) and communication flows between and across your infrastructure. It categorizes the running software using application fingerprints. iQCloud even filters communication flows between them by type to remove any noise.  The automatic grouping engine then isolates them into unique business services.

The result is that you get a detailed service dependency map and details on the data flows between each component. With that, your contracts are automatically sorted!

iQCloud is also quick and easy to deploy. It usually gives you actionable insight within the first hour. It’s fully agentless, too, and supports most technologies and software components right out of the box.

Check out our 14-day free trial now and see how iQCloud can make ACI easy for you.

Sam Cole is a pre-sales solutions architect at iQuate. He’s experienced in the design and delivery of service assurance and enterprise management solutions and is a degree-qualified senior solutions architect. Sam has more than 18 years of industry experience in telecommunications, banking/finance, defense and pharmaceutical industries.

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