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Cisco ACI Case Study: Data Center Relocation and Innovation

  Greg LaBrie     Dec 15, 2016

cisco-aci-case-study.pngWriter's note: Every Thursday in November and December, this blog will highlight the SDN solution, Cisco ACI. As market acceptance and adoption increases for SDN, IT professionals can count on WEI to fairly evaluate the market leading SDN solutions available today.

Several analysts have predicted a rise in the adoption of SDN and software-defined technologies in the years ahead. We stand by the prediction as our networking solution engineers often get asked about our experience implementing the market leading SDN solutions available today. Read through this example of how WEI assisted its customer with a data center relocation and consolidation project that was enhanced by the implementation of Cisco ACI -- which presents a new networking model that leverages policy-based networking.


A Fortune 100 Communications company was faced with a data center relocation initiative as their building lease was about to expire. The company saw this relocation as an opportunity to consolidate their existing data center and build a new state-of-the-art data center with infrastructure built for today, and for the future.

The customer was faced with the following challenges:

  • The building lease expiration posed a tight deadline, especially for relocating a data center of this size
  • This data center housed the customer’s VDI environment, Telecom equipment and Business Applications, making it critical to minimize downtime and impact to employees
  • Data center security could not be compromised

Given WEI’s vast experience managing data center relocations coupled with experience implementing software defined networking solutions, the customer brought in WEI to manage the data center consolidation, relocation, and integration of net new infrastructure, as well as the implementation of the Cisco ACI solution in a production environment.


As a supplier of the customer’s data center components (servers, storage, and networking), WEI already understood the existing IT environment and was able to get started quickly. WEI’s project management team brought together the three stakeholder groups, the Data Center Infrastructure Manager, and the Server and Networking teams, to understand business goals and requirements. The Data Center Infrastructure Manager required the new data center to run on DC power. Since WEI is the only IT solutions provider in the region with DC power options available, WEI staged all the equipment in our Data Center Demo Lab over an 8-week period replicating the customer’s environment with servers, storage, and software defined networking with Cisco ACI.

The hardware and software configuration was done collaboratively among WEI, Cisco and the customer’s networking team during a week-long testing and training session in WEI’s Knowledge Transfer Center. This was a huge time-saver for the customer because they did not have to wait for the new data center install to be complete in order to start testing Cisco ACI in their updated environment.

WEI also led the data center build and played a major role in the physical install with the Rack and Stack of 70 cabinets by WEI integration and engineering teams.


The decision to implement Cisco ACI was a key factor in the success of the consolidation and relocation because its backbone infrastructure allowed the data center to be set up quickly. ACI features automatic fabric deployment and configuration with single point of management by the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC). Only one rack had to be configured and then the APIC pushed the configuration to the 70 racks in the new data center, which saved a significant amount of time.

Cisco ACI allows for:

  • More portability for applications across different data centers
  • Automation of IT tasks, such as switch configuration and deployment
  • Policy-based networking with no limitations on the number of VLANS
  • More secure network with built-in microsegmentation
  • Accelerated data center application deployment

Cisco ACI and the engineers from WEI transformed the customer’s traditional data center networking model to one that is policy-based. As new applications are developed or added, the customer has the infrastructure in place to allow for security and connectivity to be built around the application, rather than the network.

“WEI is Cisco ACI certified and is one of the very few IT solutions providers worldwide with experience implementing Cisco ACI in production environments.”

- Greg LaBrie, WEI Director of Technology Solutions and Services

This project was the largest Cisco ACI implementation in a production environment in the United States. The goal of this data center relocation was to build an efficient, secure data center that can scale, and it gave the customer a new greenfield production environment. The success of this implementation will be mirrored and rolled out in the customer’s data centers across the country. 

Next Steps

Ask us about Cisco ACI and how it fits into your roadmap of IT priorities and projects.


Tags  SDN Software Defined Networking innovation data center Cisco ACI

Greg LaBrie

Written by Greg LaBrie

Greg LaBrie has more than 20 years of network architecture and engineering experience designing networks that exceed technical requirements, improve operational proficiency and reduce total costs of ownership. Greg holds a number of technical certifications for HPE, Cisco, Fortinet, and much more.

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