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ACI 5.0: Let's Talk Hardware

ACI 5.0 was recently released in the middle of May 2020. That release brings a new dawn to ACI networking and a sunset to others.

June 4, 2020 3 minute read

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) was introduced in 2014. Initially the spine-leaf architecture was designed around 40 Gb uplinks utilizing the first generation Nexus 9000 series switches. Eventually 40 Gb became 100 Gb with the second generation 9K switches, often referred to as the EX/FX  family. Six years later and now ACI has the ability to support 400 Gb with the release of the GX family of switches with the initial support in ACI 4.2.

Now with 5.0, the time has come to say goodbye to the first generation switches. ACI 5.0 means there is a variety of switches that will no longer be supported moving forward, many which have been "End-of-Sale" since 2017-2018. That said, they will still be supported in the current release of ACI 4.2.

Always keep in mind though that software security and vulnerability updates for that specific hardware does end two years prior to end of support. Hardware end-of-support dates will vary based on the switch model. Links below will re-direct you to those Cisco End-of-Life (EOL) announcements.

Table of switch types and their corresponding product ID

If you currently have these switches in your ACI fabric, now is the perfect time to work with the WWT team to determine the best switch to replace the first generation switches and be prepared for what comes in ACI 5.0. With the new switches come new capabilities as well, such as L4-L7 redirection for Service Graphs, more security features, full multicast routing support and ACI Multi-Site as a few examples.

While the first generation APIC controllers are still supported in 5.0, you may want to consider updating those as well. The end-of-support date for those are October 2021.

Last but not least, if you are utilizing the Cisco Application Virtual Switch (AVS) with ACI, you will need to migrate to another option with ACI 5.0. There are multiple migration options there such as the VMM Integration to vCenter using a traditional virtual distributed switch, Cisco ACI Virtual Edge (AVE) or the more manual methods.

ACI 5.0 release notes

Cisco EOL announcements

Want to try ACI?

Our labs are on-demand, include easy to follow step-by-step instructions and there is no charge to use them. Learn more about a few of our ACI offerings: Cisco ACI Basics and Deploying an ACI Multisite Fabric Module 1 of 4.

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