Cisco ACI 5.0 Virtual Simulator Lab

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Solution Overview

Today's networks can be complex, have limited functionality and be resistant to change. Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is a network architecture that changes how we design, manage and operate the entire data center network. This lab showcases the new features and functionality of the ACI 5.0 version.

With this ACI 5.0 lab, you will be able to experience building out the various constructs ACI offers and explore the ability to create application profiles, Layer 2/3 connectivity to ACI and much more. This environment also allows for Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) integration, such as with VMware vCenter, allowing the provisioning of the Distributed Virtual Switch (DVS) on the Hypervisors. The ACI Simulator does not have a data-plane so traffic will not pass, but this will allow users to experience the Web GUI.

The ACI Virtual Simulator also allows for you to use automation tools such as Ansible or Postman to automate define every aspect of an ACI fabric.

This lab guide allows the user to experience the initial configuration of the APIC controller, then provide fabric discovery and configuration as well as VMM integration. Once complete you will be able to configure any feature available in Cisco ACI 5.0 and move onto any other advanced tasks you may want to complete. Explore the ability to create multiple tenants and application profiles within those environments, as well as the new features in ACI 5.0 such as ESGs.  

Due to data plane limitations, the lab does not include any VMs or physical hosts to test the data plane or policies that you have created.

Goals & Objectives

The goal of this lab is to familiarize users with how to build the logical application and network constructs of ACI. This lab covers:

  • Tutorial on VXLAN 101 and ACI 101 basics
  • Lab 1 Initial configuration of the APIC 5.0 controller via APIC console
  • APIC 5.0 switch Fabric Discovery via registration process
  • APIC 5.0 GUI Discovery self discovery of the APIC sections
  • Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) Networking to connect a Vsphere 6.7 vcenter to ACI and create a new ACI 5.0 created DVS in vCenter

Hardware & Software

The current ACI Virtual Simulator is based on APIC Release 5.0(1k). The simulator then emulates a pair of Cisco Nexus 9396PX Leaf switches and a Cisco Nexus 9508 Spine. The vcenter is VMWare 6.7.