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Televation Authors: Aatrox Communications, Lori MacVittie, Cliff Beek, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Cloud Computing, Cisco Virtualization Journal, Datacenter Automation, Telecom Innovation, Java in the Cloud, Cloud Development Tools, DevOps for Business Application Services, DevOps Journal

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F5 and Cisco: Application-Centric from Top to Bottom and End to End

The average Fortune 500 Company supports thousands of applications with increasing pressure to support more

These increases put incredible pressure on IT to operationalize. Organizations have responded with new approaches to application development (Agile) and operations (devops), but in many cases the network remains as manually managed as ever. Given the importance of network and application services to delivering and securing applications, it is imperative that IT be afforded the means to operationalize it, too, lest it become the immovable object in the path of an irresistible force.


We believe Cisco and F5 share a common vision for simplifying networking end to end and enabling rapid network service provisioning by taking an application-centric approach to solving key pain points in customer's next generation data centers while meeting their critical data center requirements today. F5's strategy is embodied in Synthesis, Cisco in its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). These strategies together can help customers to realize at a system level improved service velocity, best-in-class performance and reduced complexity, capabilities considered vital for data centers today to support a diverse and growing number of applications.

The meteoric rise of the application as one of the most important - if not the most important - factor contributing to business success today should not be surprising. In response, businesses continue to build newer, better and more mobile-friendly applications to support the nearly insatiable appetite for apps. And it's not just consumers, either. The average Fortune 500 Company supports thousands of applications with increasing pressure to support more in mobile and cloud form. If that's not daunting enough, we have only begun to enter era of the Internet of Everything (IoE), with even more devices and applications needing to be connected and secured.


Figure 1: Cisco APIC manages and distributes application policies that automate and orchestrate network and application services to enable an application centric infrastructure.

Cisco ACI provides a groundbreaking service insertion framework that allows automated service injection, network stitching and orchestration that reduces the complexity and brittle nature of traditional architectures. The Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) provides centralized service automation and policy control for network and F5 Software Defined Application ServicesTM (SDAS) delivered via F5 SynthesisTM.

An integration of APIC and F5 Synthesis, could help IT organizations to deliver application centric, service enabled network and application service automation in existing and next-generation data centers. A joint solution would support virtual workload mobility and continuous delivery of applications without compromising on consistent, scalable network and application services.

A Unified, Comprehensive Solution for the Data Center
Cisco APIC enables a unified, application-driven policy approach for infrastructure that aligns with F5's own application-aware service model, supporting a more comprehensive application-focused data center solution. Cisco APIC empowers administrators to define an application-specific policy, which is then distributed across the ACI network fabric - including services deployed on F5's high performance services fabric. This allows the chaining of network and application services critical to the successful delivery of applications.

Cisco's ACI architecture is built on a fabric foundation delivering best-in-class infrastructure that, like F5's service fabric, can be composed of hardware, software and virtual components without sacrificing the benefits realized through a unified, consistent policy automation framework. The combination of a network and service fabric supporting emerging industry standards as well as traditional architectures allows organizations to transition to new data center models based on their own technology and business requirements.

F5's application-driven service model is able to consume Cisco APIC policies through its own open API framework, supporting automated provisioning across the F5 high performance services fabric. The result is end-to-end visibility of applications and tenants. The APIC acts as a centralized point of configuration management and automation for application services, and tightly coordinates service delivery with network automation. The APIC creates a logical topology model that simplifies complicated service chains and supports rapid service insertion to dramatically improve application service velocity.

By delivering end-to-end dynamic service chaining with granular application telemetry, the Cisco ACI and F5 Synthesis solutions allows IT to operationalize key data center network and application services necessary to meet business and consumer demands for application performance, security and reliability. It will help businesses realize cost savings and greater levels of agility through automation, operational simplicity and improved performance.

You can learn more about Synthesis here and Cisco ACI here.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.