To meet financial objectives and increase shareholder value, business leaders must drive greater speed and innovation throughout the organisation. Today’s IT infrastructure is complex and often manually provisioned, making it costly and time-consuming to deploy and manage applications. To deliver greater service agility and scale, more predictable IT spending, and increased customer satisfaction—all within the existing IT cost structure—IT departments must transform their data centers. However, this transformation cannot compromise application security, availability, or performance.

Together, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and F5 Synthesis™ offer a new data center architecture founded on an automated, policy-based, and fabric-based approach that operationalises the network and accelerates application deployment.

Competing in a Demanding Environment today’s IT departments must deliver applications where, when, and how they are needed for customers and employees alike. But the existing data centre infrastructure is a heterogeneous mix of physical and virtual devices with a device-centric management approach, and its operation is manual, repetitive, and time-consuming. IT departments are not set up to deploy applications quickly, scale them effectively, and maintain required service levels. For the business owner, this means that time-to-service for applications is too long, operating costs are too high, and customer satisfaction is at risk. Meanwhile, ROI and service profitability often fall short of business expectations.

Transforming the existing data centre infrastructure requires automation and orchestration, but these strategies bring their own challenges, such as the need to operationalise the network while maintaining the high availability and predictable performance of existing applications. Evolving the data centre from a traditional, web-scale-focused architecture to an operationalised, hyper-scale-capable architecture requires a new approach. This approach must support the integration and orchestration of network and application services, while preserving existing support and investments for traditional and web-scale applications.

A Unified Solution

Cisco and F5 have introduced an integrated solution to transform the current data center and address these business challenges. Cisco ACI is a data center architecture with an integrated network fabric and centralised policy-based control, which delivers software flexibility, rapid and automated provisioning, and scalability and performance. Cisco ACI enables the rapid deployment of applications onto networks with scalability, security, and full visibility. F5 Synthesis is an architecture that delivers and orchestrates F5’s Software-Defined Application Services™ (SDAS) via a high-performance application fabric. Together, the F5 and Cisco technologies offer a complementary and unified network and application fabric with an application-centric and open approach to operationalising the network.

Cisco and F5 are focused on the intelligent delivery of applications and services in all types of environments. The key point of integration for F5 Synthesis within Cisco ACI is F5’s Device Package for the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC); this makes it easy for customers to combine F5’s L4–L7 application fabric with Cisco’s L2–L3 network fabric. A downloadable, easy-to-install piece of software, the F5 Device Package provides a uniquely application-centric use case structure—rather than a feature-driven template—that results in a single workflow policy configurations and provisioning. This approach enables unmatched simplicity and automation for the insertion of L4–L7 application services into Cisco ACI application deployments, and it can reduce operational costs. The F5 Device Package also seamlessly incorporates F5’s iApps® templates and iRules® policies so customers can leverage existing investments and customisations of F5 application services. Finally, the F5 Device Package delivers real-time health scores on Cisco APIC so customers can easily monitor application resources and reduce downtime and poor performance.

This joint F5 and Cisco solution simplifies and automates end-to-end application delivery across an integrated and elastic fabric for existing and next-generation data centers, and it provides applications with the speed, reliability, and security that today’s business environment demands.