Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) REST API Guide The ACI REST API docs show developers how to automate network policies with controllers and integrate network deployment into management and monitoring tools

ACI Programmability

Cisco ACI Programmability with Object-Oriented Data Model and REST APIs

Cisco has taken a foundational approach to building a programmable network infrastructure with Cisco ACI. The ACI infrastructure operates as a single system at the fabric level, controlled by the centralized Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC). With this approach, the data center network as a whole is tied together cohesively and treated as an intelligent transport system for the applications that support business. On network devices that are part of this fabric, the operating systems have been written to support this system view and provide an architecture for programmability at the foundation.

Instead of opening up a subset of the network functionality through programmatic interfaces, like previous Software Defined Networking (SDN) solutions, the entire ACI infrastructure is opened up for programmatic access. This is achieved by providing access to Cisco ACI object model. The ACI object model represents the complete configuration and runtime state of every single software and hardware component in the entire infrastructure. The object model is made available through standard REST API interfaces, making it easy to access and manipulate the configuration and runtime state of the system.

Promise Theory

At the top level, the Cisco ACI object model is based on promise theory, which provides a scalable control architecture, with autonomous objects responsible for implementing the desired state changes provided by the controller cluster. This approach is more scalable than traditional top-down management systems, which require detailed knowledge of low-level configurations and the current state. With promise theory, desired state changes are pushed down, and objects implement the changes, returning faults when required.

Object Model

Beneath this high-level concept is the core of Cisco ACI programmability: the object model. The model can be divided into two major parts: logical and physical. Model-based frameworks provide an elegant way to represent data. The Cisco ACI model provides comprehensive access to the underlying information model, providing policy abstraction, physical models, and debugging and implementation data.

Where to Go from Here

Cisco ACI programmability is open to any language or process that supports REST APIs. There are many DevNet ACI developer resources; Learning Labs, Sandboxes, and videos along with Ansible, Terraform, Python, and Ruby can be found here in the DevNet ACI Developer Center.