- Buy minimum ACI fabric: 1 APIC server, 1 leaf, 1 SPINE or whatever is your case.
- Use ACI simulator which simulates an ACI fabric with APICs, it is useful to get familiar with the UI, test the APIs or integrations like VMM etc.. however you can't test the data-plane since it's a simulated fabric.
I've struggled with this myself. The least expensive option is an ACI Mini bundle if you have to perform the PoC on premise but I suspect even that is is far too expensive for what you would like to do.
My suggestion would be to rent an ACI lab and test what you can. The biggest problem here is if you are trying to test out things like MultiSite and MultiPod. Its not perfect but it could get you further along.
You will need to purchase ACI hardware (controllers, leafs and spines which will come with the ACI software you need to run it).
In a lab environment you can get away with one controller, one spine (don't recommend that if you want to test failover) and two leafs (if you want to test vPCs etc).
The ACI Mini is a physical controller and two VMS and there are small bundles and even lab bundles that may be available. Check with your Cisco Partner or SE for specifics as I'm not sure what is available today.
From what I can see there is still an ACI Lab bundle but it notes "Limited Availability" so you will absolutely need to check with your partner/SE.
We delivered a partner enablement training session in September 2021 to share the ACI upgrade Best Practices.
The slide deck is enclosed here for wider audience in the community, it provides more details in terms of the best practices, tools and co...
What is Cisco ACI Anywhere?What are ACI connectivity options for managing Primary On-Prem DCs?What are ACI options for extending your Data center to secondary remote locations (Physical)?How ACI provides centralized network policy framework for workloads ...
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