IT Center Blog

Review: The ACI User Group Conference at the IT Center

June 26th, 2024 | by
Speaker gives presentation to participants

Source: Own illustration

On June 19 and 20, 2024, the IT Center at RWTH Aachen University hosted the ACI User Group Conference. Colleagues from Cisco and other partners from science and industry were also present. IT Center colleagues Benedikt Paffen and Philipp Tomazin moderated the conference and were available to answer questions.

In the spirit of network automation, presentations were given on various topics and lively discussions and feedback sessions were held. We present a review of the event in the following blog post.


Meaning of ACI

ACI, short for “Application Centric Infrastructure”, is the DataCenter network solution of the IT Center, which provides the network connectivity for more than 1,500 virtual machines of the IT Center and its users. It consists of the three main components DataCenter Admin, three redundant controllers, and various switches.

The “DataCenter-Admin” self-service portal, developed in-house by the IT Center, enables administrators to manage the system independently. This gives them controlled access to the controllers, which in turn enables them to configure the network for the users’ VMs (virtual machines). The controller manages the configurations and forwards them to the switches. These take over the routing, switching, and firewalling and forward the data packets to the end systems.


Content and Topics of the Event

The Managing Director of the IT Center, Daniel Bündgens, opened the event with a welcome address and a presentation about the IT Center.

Building on the discussions of the ACI expert panel in 2023, the focus was once again on network automation. Areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning were discussed. The various partners also presented their solutions and approaches to automating their data centers.

Participants attending a presentation

Source: Own illustration


From Virtual Reality and High Performance Computing to High-Volume Generators

The range of guided tours on the ACI User Group Conference program provided some variety. Divided into two groups, the participants were able to experience the AiXCAVE, a five-sided virtual reality installation for displaying immersive, virtual environments, live. They were able to take a virtual look at Aachen Cathedral from the inside.

During the guided tour of the Aix-la-Chapelle cluster, CLAIX for short, those interested were introduced to the topic of high performance computing. After an informative introductory lecture, the guests were then able to inspect the cluster live and ask their questions.

Participants wearing Virtual Reality Headsets

Source: Own illustration

The last item on the program was the tour of a dynamic UPS system (diesel emergency power generator with flywheel). Equipped with earplugs, the participants made their way to the infrastructure building on Seffenter Weg. The UPS system presented there ensures the power supply to our facilities and systems, among other things. Here, too, questions were diligently asked and answered.



In addition to the technical content, the conference offered plenty of opportunities for networking. Guests were able to exchange ideas and make new contacts in a relaxed atmosphere. The culinary offerings contributed to the pleasant atmosphere and encouraged mutual exchange.

Group picture of participants on stairs

Source: Own illustration



The ACI User Group Conference 2024 was a complete success. Participants were able to gain valuable insights and suggestions that they can implement in their own projects. We are already looking forward to the next conference and further developments in the field of network automation.


Responsible for the content of this article is Jelena Nikolić.

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