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Cisco and F5 Team Up to Address Continuous Deployment Integration Challenge

Guest Blogger: Lori MacVittie – Principal Technical Evangelist, F5 Networks

Lori MacVittie is a subject matter expert on emerging technology responsible for outbound evangelism across F5’s entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations, in addition to network and systems administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning technology editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she evaluated and tested application-focused technologies including app security and encryption-related solutions. 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, and is an O’Reilly author. MacVittie is an Advisory Board Member for CloudNOW.

Most of us are familiar with Newton’s Laws of Motion. The Third Law is about actions and reactions. The Second Law provides the mathematical formula for determining force. And the First Law describes motion and forces acting upon it.

But most are unlikely to know Newton’s First Law of DevOps. That’s probably because I made it up. Regardless, it holds true and is based on solid Newtonian physics.

 

The unbalanced forces acting upon application deployments are processes in the continuous deployment pipeline. The disparity in continuous deployment efforts can be seen in the varying degrees to which organizations have automated processes across the core IT concerns of security, network, application services, and app infrastructure. There are several sources of this stop and go, manual and automated mixture of deployments in the enterprise.

One of these unbalanced forces is the siloed nature of enterprise IT. Nearly half of all IT (46%) is still operating in single-function style teams. This includes smaller silos inside of larger silos with each team responsible for focused areas of IT. Security, for example, might be siloed into smaller teams that focus individually on firewalls, application security, and compliance issues. Automation and orchestration of specific services might be available within some areas, but not others.

This causes delays when teams encounter manual processes that require human interaction.

Some of these delays are caused not by manual processes, but by lack of integration across toolsets. Deployment of security services might be automated, deployment of load balancing might be automated, but the tools through which those processes are automated might not be integrated, leaving gaps in the continuous pipeline. That challenge is frustrating, as it causes a delay while a manual handoff occurs between automated systems. More than one-third (36%) of respondents to our annual State of Application Services report noted lack of integration across vendor toolsets as the most frustrating or challenging aspect of network automation. That lack of integration makes it cumbersome to orchestrate an end-to-end continuous deployment.

The good news is that integrations are continuing to evolve to address that obstacle thanks to solutions like Cisco ACI App Center.

Cisco ACI App Center

Cisco ACI App Center, if you aren’t familiar, is an open and programmable infrastructure sporting an open API. It enables deployment of a wide range of services and acts, as a sort of infrastructure deployment app store for the enterprise. Partners, customers, and community solutions are available.

And now it includes the F5 ACI ServiceCenter. Through a supported integration, we’ve teamed up with Cisco to provide L4-L7 (application services) capabilities within Cisco’s APIC environment. This gives joint customers the ability to deploy a full complement of application services, such as Advanced WAF and DDoS protection, as well as supporting network stitching, and enabling full-stack visibility.

F5 ACI ServiceCenter will make it faster and simpler for customers to deploy and consume F5 application services. We’ve moved to a declarative interface that reduces the time and effort required to automate deployment pipelines, but that doesn’t mean we’ve reduced capabilities. F5 ACI ServiceCenter still enables the same programmable extensibility that customers have come to rely on from F5 to optimize and secure their applications.

Multi-Cloud Challenges Addressed

One of the reasons we continue to partner with Cisco, is the vision we share of supporting any app, anywhere. Because security, application services, and app infrastructure all depend on those networks, integration with the tools Cisco provides to simplify and speed deployments is one of the best ways to help our joint customers succeed. These integrations address the unbalanced forces that can occur when trying to onboard and provision application services across disparate networks. Being able to automatically configure network-specific characteristics means less delay.

For the enterprise, that means being able to easily deploy application services in a more intuitive, user-friendly experience across multiple environments. Yes, that means public and private cloud as well as on-premises or remote data centers. However, since each environment is unique – with its own network characteristics – integrating with Cisco will improve the onboarding and deployment of application services dependent on those networks. In essence, we’re eliminating an unbalanced force that can put an abrupt stop to a deployment in progress.

It’s also important to enable visibility from the network to the application, from L2 to L7. This integration offers just that and enables customers to address one of their top multi-cloud challenges: visibility. Visibility is an integral component of every other capability – from security to availability to performance. Enabling full-stack visibility is a boon to all operational concerns and developers alike. It aids in troubleshooting, shutting down attacks, and optimizing performance.

Continuing to Advance Automation Together

We’re excited to continue to be a part of the Cisco ACI ecosystem, and to bring to customers this new way to deploy and operate F5 application services as a part of the Cisco APIC environment. We plan to expand the availability of F5 application services through the F5 ACI ServiceCenter integration to ensure customers can take advantage of our robust portfolio to ensure the scale, speed, and security of any app, anywhere.

The F5 ACI ServiceCenter App is planned to be available by first half of CY 2019 and will be exclusively hosted through Cisco ACI App Center. To learn more, join us at the SDxCentral webinar on July 16th at 10:00 am PDT – Registration link.

Related Links:

Cisco-F5 webinar: https://www.sdxcentral.com/resources/sponsored/webinars/f5-cisco-integrated-networking-multi-cloud-strategies/

Ecosystem Partner webpage: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/data-center/data-center-partners/ecosystem-partner-collateral.html

F5 ACI ServiceCenter app now available at ACI App Center, download it now: https://aciappcenter.cisco.com/f5-aci-servicecenter-4-1-1k-1-0-285.html

F5 ACI ServiceCenter: SEE HOW IT WORKS (video and audio)

F5 ACI ServiceCenter: SEE HOW IT WORKS (video only)



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2 Comments

  1. Excellent observations

  2. Great blog as always by Lori.