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Deploying Nutanix on Cisco ACI: Tips, Tricks, and Challenges

When deploying Nutanix on a Cisco ACI network infrastructure, a holistic integration approach is key. Both Nutanix and Cisco ACI are powerful solutions in their own rights, but integrating them can be fraught with challenges. In this post, I’ll outline some of the tricks, issues, and resolutions we encountered while setting up a new cluster of Nutanix nodes on Cisco ACI.

1. Endpoint Group (EPG) Configuration

Issue: During the initial deployment phase, we noticed that virtual machines (VMs) across different Nutanix nodes were having intermittent connectivity issues.

Resolution: The underlying cause was tied to how Endpoint Groups (EPGs) were configured in the Cisco ACI. For Nutanix, each node requires visibility to every other node within the cluster, which means ensuring correct EPG association.

Tip: Ensure that all Nutanix nodes are part of the same EPG, allowing them to communicate without restrictions. Document the ports that require communication, and use Infrastructure as Code where possible to ensure accuracy.

2. VLAN Configuration

Issue: We faced VLAN mismatches between Cisco ACI and Nutanix, causing network disruptions.

Resolution: Consistency is key. The VLAN IDs defined in Cisco ACI should match the VLAN IDs in Nutanix’s AHV settings.

Tip: Always double-check and verify VLAN configurations on both ends before deploying. Again, use Infrastructure as Code everywhere possible – tip: we use Terraform’s Cisco ACI and Nutanix modules.

3. Network Policy Application

Issue: Despite correct EPG configurations, some VMs faced intermittent connectivity.

Resolution: We traced the issue to network policies. Cisco ACI’s whitelisting model requires explicit contracts for communication between EPGs.

Tip: Ensure that the necessary contracts are set up between EPGs for both east-west and north-south traffic. Not to sound like a broken record, but, Infrastructure as Code anyone??

4. Hypervisor Selection

Nutanix supports various hypervisors like AHV, VMware vSphere, and Microsoft Hyper-V. For this deployment, we opted for Nutanix’s AHV for its seamless integration and native features.

Tip: While AHV worked best for our use case, always assess your organization’s needs before selecting a hypervisor. Some features are only available on AHV, and others only on VMware – Hyper-V seems to be the most limited, so make sure to understand what features won’t work on each hypervisor.

5. Monitoring & Troubleshooting Tools

Utilizing Nutanix’s Prism and Cisco ACI’s APIC dashboard was invaluable for monitoring and troubleshooting. These tools helped diagnose issues quickly.

Tip: Familiarize yourself with these dashboards to harness their full potential. Understand how to logon to the Nutanix physical Hosts and CVMs and review detailed logs.

External Resources:

For a smooth deployment and to avoid the aforementioned issues, here are some external resources you might find helpful:

  1. Nutanix Documentation: Comprehensive guides and best practices for deploying on different network infrastructures.
  2. Cisco ACI Documentation: Detailed configuration guides and troubleshooting techniques.
  3. Nutanix Community: A great place to ask questions, share experiences, and get insights from fellow Nutanix users.
  4. Cisco Community: Engage with experts and get answers to specific Cisco ACI challenges.


Deploying Nutanix on Cisco ACI is undeniably powerful when done correctly. By anticipating potential pitfalls and leveraging available resources, you can ensure a robust and smooth integration. Remember, preparation is half the battle won. Happy deploying!


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