On August 12th I wrote of the announcement and subsequent release of the F5 device package for Cisco APIC. A big day for both organizations, bringing to the world a partnership able to complete the SDN vision by way of managing both low-level network services and higher level application services via the one management interface – Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller.

 

Completing the SDN Vision

The SDN vision had great intentions of reducing many of the delays associated with deploying new networks. However, its early development fell short of enterprise-grade expectations. Speaking regularly with customers, we keep hearing the same feedback. That vendor’s SDN focus on no more than basic networking functions – switching, routing, firewalls and load-balancing - does not provide an environment ready for live application deployment. I’m relieved at this finding! For, as a consumer of many of our customer’s services, these organizations left disappointed by ‘classic SDN’ are not in the practice of deploying systems free of data protection, access and identity, and user experience services. At no point has anyone tried to convince me that a VLAN to the Internet sufficed for production-ready sign-off.  Phew! My data and application experience remains safe.

This shortfall of classic SDN has been a great reminder that there are many network services beyond connectivity alone and that a more inclusive approach is required.

 

What did we learn from this?

Knowing that the classic SDN vision was incomplete in the eyes of our customers and that a greater opportunity was at hand was no mystery to us - the partnership was not based on a hunch. No dice were thrown, no ‘rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock’ was played to decide on strategy. On the contrary, it was all but demanded upon by the markets we serve.

Through the integrated solution, customers of both F5 and Cisco are able to speed their delivery, reduce deployments risks, and drastically improve their time-to-value.

 

Conclusion?

“To date there are more than 1,000 plus Nexus 9k hardware customers and 200 plus ACI software customers.”, says Ravi Balakrishnan of Cisco Product Marketing.  Add to this F5’s enormous install-base (96% of the Fortune 50 ensure their applications are fast, available and secure with F5), and the fact that the APIC device package for F5 works with both the hardware and virtual appliance platforms, the opportunity for organizations to benefit is huge and growing.

Customer demand has ensured the partnership with Cisco hasn’t just continued, it has strengthened and will continue to do so. Marking the one-year anniversary of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) vision, please join this live webcast and hear what we’ve learned.