Gartner clients (and non-clients) are increasingly asking “Is Cisco ACI dead”. This question has been driven by multiple factors including limited mention of ACI at Cisco’s June Cisco Live conference, increasing investments in alternative Fabric options (most notably NDFC/DCNM), and perhaps some competitive FUD.
So what’s the answer? Cisco ACI is not dead, and we believe Cisco will deliver new ACI software releases into 2024. However, Gartner assesses that NDFC is the optimal fabric management software for most Cisco data center environments. NDFC now offers a ton of functionality that in years’ past was only available within ACI:
|Customer count (estimated)||4,000||9,000|
|Automated fabric provisioning||Yes||Yes|
|Life cycle management for Nexus switching fabrics (configuration, operations)||Yes||Yes|
|Single point of management for Nexus switching fabrics (with API)||Yes||Yes|
|VLANs can exist anywhere in an IP fabric||Yes||Yes|
|Support for fabrics in multiple geographic locations||Yes||Yes|
|Support for managing non-Nexus devices (including MDS, catalyst switches, ISR routers, Arista switches, etc.)||Yes||No|
|Support to extend policies to public cloud (i.e., AWS/Azure)||No||Yes|
|Application-centric configuration and policy definition||No||Yes|
|Scalability (switches per fabric)||400 switches||500 switches|
We just published research on this topic (paywall) here: Quick Answer: Is Cisco ACI Dead?
Summary: For over five years, Cisco ACI was the primary fabric software within Cisco’s data center networking portfolio. However, I&O leaders responsible for data center infrastructure are now asking if Cisco ACI is dead as the vendor prominently markets other aspects of its data center networking portfolio.
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