Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) announced a new software release for its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) to enhance its comprehensive SDN portfolio built on open APIs, open standards and a broad ecosystem for customer choice and flexibility. New software capabilities enhance ACI with microsegmentation for both physical (bare metal) applications and multivendor virtualized applications (VMware VDS, Microsoft Hyper-V) and extend ACI across multi-site environments to deliver policy-driven automation across multiple data centers.

Cisco also added integration of Docker containers through contributions to open source, offering customers a consistent policy model and greater deployment flexibility using the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC).

Expanding customer choice through a broad ecosystem, open APIs and contributions to open source, ACI now supports automated service insertion for any third party layer 4-7 service. Cisco also added new support for cloud automation tools like VMware vRealize Automation and OpenStack, including open standards-based Opflex support with Open vSwitch (OVS). New members of the ACI ecosystem enable the automation of entire application suites, including Platform as a Service (PAAS) and Software as a Service (SAAS), helping organizations to automate across their application and infrastructure teams.

Cisco now has over 5000 Nexus 9000 ACI-ready customers using its open platform that supports any hypervisor, any cloud management platform, and any workload whether physical, virtual, or container.

“Customers tell me that only five to ten percent of their networks are automated today,” said Soni Jiandani, SVP atCisco. “They are eager to adopt comprehensive automation for their networks and network services through a single pane of management, while improving security for east-west traffic, multi-cloud traffic and bare metal applications in a consistent manner. Policy-based automation, consistent network security and central compliance support are critical for IT efficiency, business agility, and competitive advantage. Several ACI customers have achieved full automation of the network and are focusing on automation across their Layer 4-7 network services, security and application groups as the next step.”

Cisco SDN News Highlights: New ACI Software Release

  • Docker Container Support:
    Cisco delivers support for both physical and virtual endpoints, and now extends support for Docker container endpoints through integration with the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) and Project Contiv. Project Contiv is an open source project defining infrastructure operational policies for container-based application deployment. ACI’s unified policy model enforces policy via endpoint groups (EPG), a collection of network endpoints that includes a wide range of entities, including bare-metal servers, virtual machines, and containers. Docker offers an open source platform for running distributed applications in Linux containers.
  • Enhanced security:
    Cisco ACI now provides micro-segmentation support for VMware VDS, Microsoft Hyper-V virtual switch, and bare-metal applications, which allows granular endpoint security enforcement. Customers can dynamically enforce forwarding and security policies and quarantine compromised or rogue end points based on virtual machine attributes (such as Name, Guest OS, VM Identifier) or network attributes (such as IP address.)
    Organizations can also isolate workloads within the same policy group. For example, communication between all endpoints within the same web tier can be disabled through policy-based automation, which prevents security threats from moving laterally within the data center.
  • Support for multiple data centers:
    Cisco ACI now delivers consistent policy-driven automation across multiple data centers to enable application mobility and disaster recovery through the new multi-site application in the ACI toolkit.
  • Cisco ACI now also supports service insertion and chaining for any service device, without the need for a device package for policy coordination with the Cisco APIC. Customers can now seamlessly configure and manage all their existing network services, while automating network services connectivity.
  • Increased operational flexibility:
    Additional software capabilities provide: support for NX-OS style Command Line Interface (CLI) for APIC, Basic and Advanced GUI modes, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) support for APIC, and trouble-shooting wizard enhancements such as Heat Map. General availability is Q4 CY 2015.
  • Customer choice in cloud automation tools:
    As organizations continue their journey to the cloud, Cisco provides the industry’s most comprehensive support for cloud automation tools. Adding to its support for Microsoft AzurePack for private cloud, Cisco now offers full policy-based cloud automation with VMware vRealize Automation and also OpenStack deployments. Cisco is extending ACI policy directly to the hypervisor using Opflex on Open vSwitch (OVS). OpFlex provides the policy-based integration between OpenStack and APIC. These will be generally available in Q4 CY 2015.

“At Sungard Availability Services, we provide a highly scalable OpenStack-based cloud platform offering managed network services using Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure and Group-Based Policy,” said Prasad Dorbala, Vice President of Network Transformation, Sungard Availability Services. “With the new open source support for OpFlex and Open vSwitch, we can now extend these capabilities directly into the KVM hypervisor to help customers realize the promise of physical plus virtual integration. This solution allows organizations to rapidly deploy applications through policy automation, easily insert multiple network services, and efficiently operate and manage their OpenStack cloud with APIC’s telemetry, analytics, and troubleshooting capabilities.” (Original Source)

Shares of Cisco closed yesterday at $27.44, down $0.13 or -0.47%. CSCO has a 1-year high of $30.31 and a 1-year low of $23.03. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $28.03 and its 200-day moving average is $27.48.

On the ratings front, Cisco has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on November 24, Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Inder Singh assigned a Buy rating on CSCO, with a price target of $32, which represents a potential upside of 16.6% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on November 23, William Blair’s Jason Ader reiterated a Buy rating on the stock .

According to, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Inder Singh and Jason Ader have a total average return of -1.7% and 4.2% respectively. Singh has a success rate of 66.7% and is ranked #2540 out of 3642 analysts, while Ader has a success rate of 52.0% and is ranked #908.

Overall, 2 research analysts have rated the stock with a Sell rating, 3 research analysts have assigned a Hold rating and 11 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $30.11 which is 9.7% above where the stock closed yesterday.