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Cisco corporateCisco claims that customers can take a further step towards network automation as it launched a new release of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) software to its software defined networking range.

Despite massive demand there are only 5% of networks being automated, according to Cisco’s own customer feedback. In response it has moved to simplify the task by making it easier to address all the various autonomous segments of any complicated network infrastructure.

The new software revision of ACI makes it capable of microsegmentation of both physical (i.e. bare metal) applications and virtualized applications, which are separated from the hardware by virtual operating systems such as VMware VDS and Microsoft Hyper-V. By extending ACI across multi-site environments it will enable cloud operators and network managers to devise policy-driven automation of multiple data centres.

In addition, Cisco claimed it has paved the way for integration with Docker containers through its contributions to open source. This, it said, means customers can get a consistent policy model and have more options to choose from when using the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC).

ACI now supports automated service insertion for any third party service running between layers four and seven on the network stack, it said. More support will be put behind cloud automation tools like VMware vRealize Automation and OpenStack, including open standards-based Opflex support with Open vSwitch (OVS).

The ACI ecosystem now makes the automation of entire application suites possible, including Platform as a Service (PAAS) and Software as a Service (SAAS) and there are now over 5000 Nexus 9000 ACI-ready customers using Cisco’s open platform it said.

“Customers tell me that only five to ten percent of their networks are automated today,” said Soni Jiandani, SVP at Cisco. Though they are eager to adopt comprehensive automation for their networks and network services through a single pane of management, they haven’t managed it yet. However, since several ACI customers have achieved full this could be the next step, said Jiandani.

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