Cisco ACI and Nutanix AHV Integration ~Hindawi

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) enables the seamless translation of application needs into infrastructure settings, providing automated configuration. By integrating the capabilities of software-defined networking through Cisco ACI with the Nutanix Cloud Platform, you can create a high-performing and easily scalable datacenter. This approach allows IT teams to concentrate on applications rather than being burdened by infrastructure management.

Cisco ACI establishes the preferred network configuration through either a GUI or API-driven policy. This policy-centric method within software-defined networking allows for scalable network expansion beyond the constraints of an imperative, controller-centric model. ACI seamlessly combines intelligent control of hardware switches within a leaf-spine topology with management and automation for software virtual switches. Through the utilization of this policy framework, ACI provides features such as tenant isolation, microsegmentation, automation, programmability, simplified management, and in-depth network visibility.

With the Cisco ACI Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) integration for Nutanix AHV, introduced in ACI 6.0(3), you can easily configure networks, security, and visibility in AHV. Cisco and Nutanix have developed recommendations for deploying Nutanix in a Cisco ACI environment to achieve maximum performance and reliability. Refer to the best practices checklist in the appendix for a summary of these recommendations.

Most importantly, ACI implements an allowlist policy model, which allows no traffic by default. Administrators create contracts to explicitly define traffic allowed between endpoint groups (EPGs). EPGs contain endpoints that require similar treatment on the network. When you apply a contract between EPGs, only traffic specified in the contract is allowed on the fabric.

according to Cisco ACI with Nutanix Document: Cisco ACI with Nutanix

Benefits of the Cisco APIC- Nutanix AHV Integration

  • Native integration with Nutanix cluster running AHV.
  • Visibility into the cluster (Nutanix) from APIC. Fetch inventory data like VMs, hosts, switches, subnets, security policies from Nutanix.
  • Collect statistics and provide statistics display from APIC. The collected statistics are:
    • VM Nic Stats (Transmit Packets and Bytes, Received Packets and Bytes)
    • Host Nic Stats (Transmit Packets and Bytes, Received Packets and Bytes)
    • Host Stats (CPU and memory usage )
    • VM stats (CPU and memory usage)
  • Support for EPGs to configure networking on Nutanix.
  • Support for intra-EPG policies (intra-EPG contract is not supported).

from: cisco document: Cisco ACI and Nutanix AHV Integration

Cisco ACI and Nutanix Terminology

There are variations in terminology between Cisco ACI and Nutanix. The subsequent table outlines distinctions that should be noted:

Cisco ACINutanix AHV
EPG/ port groupSubnet
Data centerCluster
Cluster controllerPrism Element
ClusterPrism Central

Guidelines and Limitations

  • One VMM domain can be associated to only one Prism Central and one Prism Element.
  • No two subnets can have the same VLAN on a vSwitch.
  • Nutanix VMM domain supports only the pre-provision resolution immediacy.
  • If a subnet is in use by a VM, the following operations cannot be done on Nutanix even if the configuration is changed on APIC:
    • the subnet VLAN, IP address pool cannot be changed.
    • the subnet cannot be deleted.
  • Intra-EPG isolation is supported but intra-EPG contract is not supported. uSeg EPG and Endpoint Security Groups(ESG) are not supported.
  • Bond type configuration for uplink of virtual switch is not supported from Cisco APIC.
  • NetFlow, floating L3Out and layer 4 to layer 7 device running on Nutanix VMM domain are not supported.
  • Multi-site integration is not supported, that is, no support for association of EPG to Nutanix VMM from NDO (Nexus Dashboard Orchestrator).

from: Cisco document: Cisco ACI and Nutanix AHV Integration

Cisco ACI and Nutanix Recommended Topologies

Nutanix has effectively confirmed its compatibility with a Cisco ACI leaf-spine structure, affirming validation through the specified network topology and components:

Image source:

Each of the four Nutanix hosts connects to two Cisco Nexus leaf switches in ACI mode. Two Cisco Nexus switches form the spine of the Cisco ACI fabric. Three Cisco APICs connect to the leaf switches to manage the ACI fabric. The Nutanix Controller VM (CVM) and a Linux guest VM run on each hypervisor node.

from: Cisco ACI with Nutanix documentation


Deploying the Cisco ACI network fabric alongside Nutanix establishes a computing and storage infrastructure prioritizing applications. Whether utilizing the native Nutanix hypervisor, AHV, with the default OVS, or ESXi with VSS or VDS, Cisco ACI delivers a high-performance, easily manageable, and scalable leaf-spine architecture for constructing a web-scale Nutanix Cloud Platform.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *