Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is a big evolutionary step in data center networking, not because it adds programmability to the network--this has been a rising trend over the last few years--but because of the increased compatibility between vendors. This is where the real benefits are. 

We can see the start of this evolutionary step with Cisco's FlexPod (an amalgam of Cisco UCS, VMWare hypervisors, and NetApp storage). Here we see properly validated designs that span more than one vendor. This in itself was a big step; after all, it makes sense for a vendor to try and encourage the end user to purchase their equipment instead of their competitors'. This is done for two reasons: compatibility between devices ...

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