Regarding the Enterprise Module of the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), Cisco officials said it will give organizations greater visibility into their networks and automate the configuration and extend the reach of APIC to WAN and access networks. The automation will speed up the networking configuration tasks, and so what took months to do manually will take hours now, according to Cisco's Reed.
Cisco's APIC supports a range of APIs, from OpenFlow to Cisco's onePK to command line interface (CLI), while also supporting newer SDN-ready networking systems and older Cisco network equipment, which is key for the large installed base of Cisco customers, Reed said.
Cisco executives unveiled the ACI strategy and APCI technology in November, bringing in-house technology developed by its "spin-in" company Insieme. ACI was seen as an answer to SDN, which many industry observers have said represents a threat to Cisco's traditional—and money-making—networking business. Competitors have argued that ACI is Cisco's way of keeping customers tied to the vendor's technology at a time when SDN and network-function virtualization promise to create more open networks.
Reed said that ACI—which leverages both Cisco's hardware strengths and software capabilities—enables SDN, creating a much more automated networking environment and enabling organizations to view their networks as a single entity. He also pointed to the increasingly open nature of what Cisco offers under the ACI umbrella. For example, the Enterprise Module can connect to the OpenDaylight open-source SDN platform, and Cisco is offering a ONE developer kit that will enable developers to create software to connect the Cisco ONE platform to other data center resources.
Cisco also is announcing more partners to the Cisco ONE program, including Citrix, Radware and ActionPacket.
The APIC APIs are important for Cisco customers as they grow their ACI infrastructures, Reed said. Right now many of them aren't doing a lot of programming for the environments right now, so the Cisco APIs give them some applications they can build off of, he said.
"It's immediately helpful for a lot of customers I talk to," Reed said, noting that as companies get more experience and comfort with ACI and SDN, they will begin developing their own applications.
The InterCloud technology will be available in the second quarter. The APIC Enterprise Module will be available in the first half of the year.