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ITD: Load Balancing, Traffic Steering & Clustering using Nexus 5k/6k/7k/9k

Cisco Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is an innovative solution to bridge the performance gap between a multi-terabit switch and gigabit servers and appliances. It is a hardware based multi-terabit layer 4 load-balancing, traffic steering and clustering solution on the Nexus 5k/6k/7k/9k series of switches.

It allows customers to deploy servers and appliances from any vendor with no network or topology changes. With a few simple configuration steps on a Cisco Nexus switch, customers can create an appliance or server cluster and deploy multiple devices to scale service capacity with ease. The servers or appliances do not have to be directly connected to the Cisco Nexus switch.

ITD won the Best of Interop 2015 in Data Center Category.

With our patent pending innovative algorithms, ITD (Intelligent Traffic Director) supports IP-stickiness, resiliency, consistent hash, exclude access-list, NAT (EFT), VIP, health monitoring, sophisticated failure handling policies, N+M redundancy, IPv4, IPv6, VRF, weighted load-balancing, bi-directional flow-coherency, and IPSLA probes including DNS. There is no service module or external appliance needed. ITD provides order of magnitude CAPEX and OPEX savings for the customers. ITD is much superior than legacy solutions like PBR, WCCP, ECMP, port-channel, layer-4 load-balancer appliances.

ITD provides :

  1. Hardware based multi-terabit/s L3/L4 load-balancing at wire-speed.
  2. Zero latency load-balancing.
  3. CAPEX savings : No service module or external L3/L4 load-balancer needed. Every Nexus port can be used as load-balancer.
  4. Redirect line-rate traffic to any devices, for example web cache engines, Web Accelerator Engines (WAE), video-caches, etc.
  5. Capability to create clusters of devices, for example, Firewalls, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), or Web Application Firewall (WAF), Hadoop cluster
  6. IP-stickiness
  7. Resilient (like resilient ECMP), Consistent hash
  8. VIP based L4 load-balancing
  9. NAT (available for EFT/PoC). Allows non-DSR deployments.
  10. Weighted load-balancing
  11. Load-balances to large number of devices/servers
  12. ACL along with redirection and load balancing simultaneously.
  13. Bi-directional flow-coherency. Traffic from A–>B and B–>A goes to same node.
  14. Order of magnitude OPEX savings : reduction in configuration, and ease of deployment
  15. Order of magnitude CAPEX savings : Wiring, Power, Rackspace and Cost savings
  16. The servers/appliances don’t have to be directly connected to Nexus switch
  17. Monitoring the health of servers/appliances.
  18. N + M redundancy.
  19. Automatic failure handling of servers/appliances.
  20. VRF support, vPC support, VDC support
  21. Supported on all linecards of Nexus 9k/7k/6k/5k series.
  22. Supports both IPv4 and IPv6
  23. Cisco Prime DCNM Support
  24. exclude access-list
  25. No certification, integration, or qualification needed between the devices and the Cisco NX-OS switch.
  26. The feature does not add any load to the supervisor CPU.
  27. ITD uses orders of magnitude less hardware TCAM resources than WCCP.
  28. Handles unlimited number of flows.

For example,

  • Load-balance traffic to 256 servers of 10Gbps each.
  • Load-balance to cluster of Firewalls. ITD is much superior than PBR.
  • Scale IPS, IDS and WAF by load-balancing to standalone devices.
  • Scale the NFV solution by load-balancing to low cost VM/container based NFV.
  • Scale the WAAS / WAE solution.
  • Scale the VDS-TC (video-caching) solution.
  • Scale the Layer-7 load-balancer, by distributing traffic to L7 LBs.
  • ECMP/Port-channel cause re-hashing of flows. ITD is resilient, and doesn’t cause re-hashing on node add/delete/failure.

Documentation, slides, videos:

Email Query or

Please note that ITD is not a replacement for Layer-7 load-balancer (URL, cookies, SSL, etc). Please email: for further questions.

Connect on twitter: @samar4

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RISE: Remote Integrated Service Engine Demo @ Cisco Live Milan

The Cisco® Remote Integrated Services Engine (RISE) allows both physical and virtual external service appliances to be attached to the Cisco Nexus® 7000 Series Switches and gain the same benefits as if the appliances were directly connected to the switch backplane like a dedicated service module. Cisco RISE provides a bidirectional control plane for tightly coupling network services to data center switching. Cisco RISE establishes a communication path between the network data plane and the service appliance, simplifying deployment and optimizing data paths with better traffic visibility in the data center. RISE is supported Cisco Prime NAM, Citrix NetScaler 1000v, Citrix NetScaler VPX, Citrix NetScaler MPX, Citrix NetScaler SDX etc.

Interested in knowing more about Cisco® RISE . The engineering team will showcase demos of some of the innovative features being designed for the Nexus 2K to 7K platforms. These are 15-30min Software Demos performed by our technical leaders. Please stop by our booth or visit the Nexus Data Center Whisper suites to watch the live demo and get some free goodies. Email questions to:

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How does RISE benefit Cisco Prime NAM?

As you may have seen in Gary Kinghorn’s blog, Cisco Prime Network Analysis Module (NAM) has been integrated with Cisco Nexus® 7000 Series Switches using Cisco® Remote Integrated Services Engine (RISE) technology providing a powerful story for data center integration. RISE with Prime NAM provides high performance monitoring and packet analysis on multiple virtual device contexts along with switch interface statistics for all modules.

Cisco RISE can be used to tightly integrate the Cisco Nexus 7000 series switches with the Cisco Prime NAM to provide VDC awareness and SPAN traffic across multiple VDCs without burning slots on the switch. RISE overcomes the limitation of applying SPAN configuration only in the VDC to which the management cable is attached by intelligently managing the movement of NAM data ports and SPAN configuration to other VDCs as needed. The integration includes the following main features:

  • NAM appliance acts as a module on Nexus switches
  • One NAM appliance can receive traffic from multiple Nexus VDCs without re-cabling
  • One NAM appliance can collect interface statistics for multiple VDCs
  • Dynamic vdc-aware SPAN configuration on Nexus switches using NAM GUI
  • Up to 4 NAM ports can be automatically assigned to Nexus VDCs using NAM GUI
  • Graph of per-interface ingress and egress statistics for multiple VDCs
  • Auto-discovery and bootstrap of NAM appliance from Nexus switch
  • Health monitoring of NAM appliance
  • Visibility to multiple VDCs from one NAM appliance with ongoing VDC configuration updates
  • Configurable timer intervals and VDC list for interface statistics collection
  • User-friendly error handling for SPAN creation/deletion/modification
  • Order of magnitude OPEX and CAPEX savings: reduction in configuration, simplified provisioning and data-path optimization


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Figure 1. RISE Physical and logical topology


Deployment Modes

Cisco RISE supports attachment to the NAM appliance in the following modes:

  • Direct Attach mode with single NAM: The appliance has a management link that is directly attached to the Nexus switch. Up to 4 data links on the NAM can be attached to one or more VDCs on the Nexus switch to send SPAN traffic (Figure 2).

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Figure 2. Direct Attach Mode with single NAM

Direct Attach modes with multiple NAMs: The appliance has a management link that is directly attached to the Nexus switch. Up to 4 data links on each NAM can be attached to one or more VDCs on the Nexus switch to send SPAN traffic (Figure 3).

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Figure 3: Direct Attach mode with multiple NAMs

Indirect Attach modes with multiple NAMs: The appliance has a management link that is attached via an L2 network to the Nexus switch. Up to 4 data links on each NAM can be attached to one or more VDCs on the Nexus switch to send SPAN traffic (Figure 4).


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Core Features

Cisco RISE with NAM provides the following key features that allow the solution to provide traffic and performance analysis across all the VDCs on the Nexus switch without changing the wiring connections.

 Dynamic VDC-aware SPAN Configuration

  • Configure SPAN sessions for up to 4 NAM dataports from NAM GUI.
  • Create, edit, delete SPAN sessions, select destination ports and source ports for the SPAN sessions.
  • SPAN sessions can be configured in other VDCs by selecting VDC and data ports from NAM GUI. Dataport will be automatically moved to required VDC.
  • The options of SPAN configuration available to N7K CLI users are available via NAM GUI using RISE.
  • Provides visibility to all VDCs from one NAM.

 Multi-VDC Interface Statistics

  • Retrieve interface statistics of all VDCs on N7K via RISE
  • Set short term and long term polling intervals for getting interface statistics
  • Set the interested list of VDCs from which statistics needs to be retrieved
  • Statistics can be viewed on per interface basis as a graph or data points

Main Benefits

  • Enhanced application availability via simplified provisioning and efficient manageability.
  • Data path optimization: ADC off-load, low latency policy engine.
  • Dynamic VDC-aware SPAN configuration: Create SPAN sessions on any VDC
  • Multi-VDC awareness: Deliver traffic and performance reports in multiple VDCs
  • Cisco RISE provides significant savings in capital expenditures (CapEx) and operating expenses (OpEx) through simplified provisioning and data-plane optimizations:
  • Dramatic OpEx savings: Reduction in configuration time and ease of deployment
  • Dramatic CapEx savings: Reduced wiring, power, and rack-space needs
  • The solution provides enhanced business resiliency and stickiness to Cisco products.

Ordering Information

Cisco RISE is supported in Cisco NX-OS Software Release 7.1(0) and requires the Enhanced Layer 2 Package license. Please contact if you are interest in an EFT.


RISE with Prime NAM White Paper


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Enabling Data Center Services with RISE : Remote Integrated Services Engine

Data Centers are becoming increasingly smart, intelligent and elastic. With the advancement in cloud and virtualization technologies, customers demand dynamic workload management, efficient and optimal use of their resources. In addition the configuration and administration of Data Center solutions is complex and is going to become increasingly so.RISE

With these requirements and architectures in mind we have a industry first solution called Remote Integrated Service Engine (RISE).  RISE is a technology that simplifies provisioning, out of box management of service appliances like load balancers, firewalls, network analysis modules. It makes data center and campus networks dynamic, flexible, easy to configure and maintain.

RISE can dynamically provision network resources for any type of service appliance (physical and virtual form factors). External appliances can now operate as integrated service modules with Nexus Series of switches without burning a  slot in a switch . This technology provides robust application delivery capabilities that accelerate the application performance manifold.

RISE is supported on all Nexus Series switches with services like Citrix NetScaler MPX, VPX, SDX and Cisco Prime NAM with many more in the pipeline.

Advantages & Features

  1. Simplified Out-of-Box experience : reduces the administrator’s manual configuration steps from 30 to 8 steps !!
  2. Supported on Citrix NetScaler MPX, SDX, VPX, and Nexus 1KV with VPX
  3. Supported on Cisco Prime Network Analyzer Module
  4. Automatic Policy Based Routing – Eliminates need for SNAT or Manual PBR
  5. Direct and Indirect Attach mode integration
  6. Show module for RISE
  7. Attach module for RISE
  8. Auto Attach – Zero touch configuration of RISE
  9. Health Monitoring of appliance
  10. Appliance HA and VPC supported
  11.  Nexus 5K/6K support (EFT available)
  12. IPV6 support (EFT available)
  13. DCNM support
  14. Order of magnitude OPEX savings: reduction in configuration, and ease of deployment
  15. Order of magnitude CAPEX savings: Wiring, Power Rackspace and Cost savings

For more information, schedule an EFT or POC Contact us at


RISE press release on Wall Street Journal :
RISE At A Glance white paper:
RISE Video at Interop:
Cisco RISE page:
Gartner blog on RISE: “Cisco and Citrix RISE to the Occasion”:

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ITD: Load Balancing, Traffic Steering & Clustering using Nexus 5k/6k/7k


Data traffic has grown dramatically in the recent years, leading to increased deployment of network service appliances and servers in enterprise, data center, and cloud environments. To address the corresponding business needs, network switch and router architecture has evolved to support multi-terabit capacity. However, service appliance and server capacity remained limited to a few gigabits, far below switch capacity.

Cisco Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is an innovative solution to bridge the performance gap between a multi-terabit switch and gigabit servers and appliances. It is an hardware based multi-terabit layer 4 load-balancing, traffic steering and clustering solution on the Nexus 7000 and 7700 series of switches.

Read More »

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