Lab for Cisco APIC-EM and my feedback

I’m sure that by now there is lots of people already working and playing on the Cisco APIC-EM. I finally had the opportunity this week to attend to a Cisco APIC-EM hands on lab. Let me begin by telling you that I was very impressed with the quality and the functionality of the software.

The general idea from APIC-EM is to provide provisioning, inventory and networking path tracing among others… I think this description is short and loose from what the application itself can accomplish.

From the lab itself:

The APIC-EM platform delivers many significant benefits. For example, it:
• Creates an intelligent, open, programmable network with open APIs
• Can help customers save time, resources, and costs through advanced automation services
• Can transform business-intent policies into dynamic network configuration
• Provides a single point for network-wide automation and control

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-3-40-45-pm

I had the chance to play with the following:
– Device and Host Inventory
– Topology Visualization
– SDN-Led QoS – EasyQoS App
– SDN-Led Troubleshooting – Path Trace App
-SDN-Led Provisioning – Network Plug and Play App

The lab also contained the following exercises that I could not finish due to running out of time playing with the other functions

– SDN-Led Automation – IWAN App visualization
– API using Swagger
– API using Chrome Postman

Discovery and Host Inventory

The discovery of your equipment can be done in a combination of SNMP + CDP + CLI access – You will need a CDP seed device that the system will use to lay out the topology.
This was very nice because it will provide a topology based on few characteristics:

– Site
– Layer 2
– Layer 3

APIC-EM will let you create Tags, Policies and define Sites in order to provide an accurate topology design. Also APIC-EM will allow you to see and decide based on the connectivity of the client, if is a wired or wireless host.

Easy QoS APP

QoS is a big deal in today networks not only to traffic control, but also for security. Reality is that today’s networks don’t need to much of control based on bandwidth which could be plenty from infrastructure to infrastructure. With that being said, Security is important because you could define your Business critical applications and baseline your usage, giving you an easy way to have predictable traffic. Now you may ask, why Security, well lets say that you already have a baseline of how much is the traffic of your Business critical applications, and for some reason you see an alarming increase on the traffic, well this will point you that there are few things that you need to look, like maybe an internal DDOS attack?

Using EasyQoS, you can group devices and then assign classes of service to those devices. The Cisco APIC-EM takes your QoS selections, translates them into the proper device configurations, and deploys the configurations onto those devices.

The lab goes in full detail on how to create policies that will then be applied to devices in your network

SDN-Led Troubleshooting – Path Trace App

I could not put the following into better words:

Inspection, interrogation, and remediation of network problems rely on manual techniques today, which may not only be slow and inaccurate, but also quite expensive. Given a five-tuple description, the Path Trace application solves this problem by automating inspection and visualization of the path taken by a flow between two endpoints in the network.
Path Trace application also allows customers to start their journey towards SDN Management and automation by leveraging an application that is read only and yet can provide tremendous value in day-to- day troubleshooting.
During this lab we will experiment with this application.

The Path-Trace APP is interesting and its one of the things I see the most value. This feature will let you analyze the traffic from endpoint to endpoint. Also giving you an idea on how to troubleshoot issues if any. I have seen many customers with multisite environments where the IP traffic is not predictable and in some cases Asynchronous.

Cisco is making an incredible push to SDN technologies, and they are the ones leading with making their products SDN capable. Also making them more accessible to Engineers and Customers. It is very important to note that there are many initiatives from Cisco for you to get involved. At the end of this post you will see few things on how to get involved.

To be continued… of for you to Continue…

There is so much to say and so much information to be discussed about the APIC-EM, that I will leave the post at this stage, but not before sharing some resources that you can find usefull as you get more information from the APIC-EM itself

The following are some sessions from Cisco Live las Vegas 2016:
APIC-EM: Controller Workflow and Use Cases
APIC-EM API Deep Dive
Coding 102 – REST API Basics using APIC-EM
APIC-EM Update: Configure and Provision Network Infrastructure in Minutes, Not Months

Now in case you want to get more information on the basics, the what ifs and super geeky stuff about the product, make sure you take a look at the Data Sheet

Before I leave…

Here are the System requirements.

System Requirements
The APIC-EM with the IWAN Application runs on a virtual appliance. The system resources to run the application follow:
● Server: 64-bit x86
● vCPU: 6 (2.4 GHz)
● RAM: 64 GB

(Note: For a multi-host hardware deployment (two or three hosts), 32GB RAM is sufficient for each host.)
● Disk I/O Speed: 200 Mbps
● Browser: Chrome (47 or later)
● Storage: 500-GB hard disk drive or preferably 1-TB HDD
● Network adapter: 1x

You also must have an HTTP or Secure HTTP (HTTPS) proxy to connect the APIC-EM plug and play service to the public cloud. This proxy can be a commercial standard HTTP or HTTPS proxy.

A silly video on Youtube

For your amusement, check out this video on APIC-EM

Last Words…

I was supposed to finish this post from lots of titles back, but really wanted to recommend you to keep up with the product, and schedule a Demo with Cisco whenever possible. This is the way technology is going these days and it will be bad not to keep up with the latests.
Again and as always, in case you have any questions I would love to hear from you on the comments section. I will do my best to help in any way I can.

About the Author:

Andres Sarmiento, CCIE # 53520 (Collaboration)
With more than 13 years of experience, Andres is specialized in the Unified Communications and Collaboration technologies. Consulted for several companies in South Florida, also Financial Institutions on behalf of Cisco Systems. Andres has been involved in high-profile implementations including Cisco technologies; such as Data Center, UC & Collaboration, Contact Center Express, Routing & Switching, Security and Hosted IPT Service provider infrastructures.

You can follow Andres using Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook

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