The WWT Cisco ACI lab has gone through many transitions over the years. This training was first taught in person but has been self-service since version 5, allowing students to complete it at their own pace. This ACI lab has historically been prepared with a drag-and-drop object approach. While this may seem more straightforward at first glance, it differs from how typical customers administer ACI fabrics. The new version 6 is now more aligned with real-world scenarios.

Some changes to ACI version 6 are not covered in the lab but are essential to know.

·      Version 6 APICs now have 64-bit switch binary images. The operator will load the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and the APIC will automatically select the correct version based on the switches' available memory. If the memory is less than or equal to 24GB, the APIC will install the 32-bit image. And, if the switch is 32 GB or greater, the APIC will first upgrade it to the 32-bit version and then upgrade it to the 64-bit image.

·      Some software maintenance upgrades may not require a switch reload. For example, an upgrade directly targeted to a switch to address a specific issue such as a vulnerability.

·      Also, new to version 6, if the APIC is replaced via RMA or other means, the APIC is automatically upgraded to the same version of the existing cluster. Something to note is that the CIMC IP address of the replacement APIC needs to be reachable from the other APIC members. Also, note that the replacement APIC must be version 4.2.1 or newer for this automation.

The lab has also been changed to extend layer 2 and remove physical domain extensions rather than changing bridge domains. This lab has moved away from focusing on the bridge domain to focusing more on the EPG settings. If the above terminology and concepts need to be understood, rest assured they will be covered in the lab.

This lab has been built to guide the network professional through a likely networking scenario in a brownfield environment while assisting in the order of operations after discovery. From making the ACI constructs to extending the EPGs to removing no longer needed domains, this updated lab explores the most likely path to success for migrating from conventional data center networks to an ACI fabric. This lab still covers micro-segmentation in the last chapter, although it is still an option; however, this technology is typically no longer implemented in most environments. Macro-segmentation is now used more frequently with similar results for security.

For lab veterans exploring this lab, most changes are included in lab 8, where network professionals will notice that the topology will form itself through a series of steps closely aligned with actual ACI procedures rather than requiring manual dragging and dropping of objects.

One of the challenges we strive to address with each version of the lab is demonstrating the benefits and gains that can be realized with the willingness to explore and adopt new capabilities and methodologies when the status quo still "works."