To me, there is nothing more satisfying than when a customer gives glowing testimonials publicly to our products and solutions. In the last two weeks, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) has been in the news with a spate of customer success stories. First, we saw the news report on how service providers worldwide are benefiting with Cisco ACI’s advanced SDN services. Cisco’s famous blogger, Craig Huitema, illustrated last week via his blog how UK based service provider, Hutchinson, leveraged efficiency and cost savings with Cisco ACI. Now it is my turn to present you two, hot out of the oven, customer success stories featuring Cisco ACI, and its premier ADC eco-system partner, F5.
Let us pick up the action here at home in US with West Corp, who provide the core of US 911 infrastructure.
Challenges: Multiple data centers, Heterogeneous IT, Incompatible systems
West Corp handles some 65 billion telephony minutes and 290 million calls per year on average. With a mish-mash of multi-vendor infrastructure through acquisitions, this has proved difficult to manage and maintain. West calls it high-wire networking without a net.
Solution: West Corp decided to move from a collection of acquired companies’ technologies to a model based on a standardized IT infrastructure managed as a single entity. To streamline its IT environment, West decided to use F5 technologies integrated with the Cisco ACI. Jeremy Brown, Enterprise Network Architect for West, cited Cisco ACI as a foundation of high-capacity, speed and reliable switching infrastructure.
According to Jeremy, “We understand well its capabilities and reliability. We never know what demands customers will put on our applications, but ACI helps keep us ready.” He agrees with one of the core tenants of Cisco ACI – it optimizes the application lifecycle for scale and performance, and supports application provisioning across physical and virtual resources. West Corp augmented their ACI architecture with F5 Software-Defined Application Services. They also opted for the open, programmable, and intelligent F5 BIG-IQ platform to provide management, orchestration and control of West’s F5 BIG-IP devices and application services.
Why West Corp chose the integrated F5/ACI solution?
“We split our network in such a way that we can spin up applications and services, test them, and spin them down. That means we need software-defined networking, an application-centric infrastructure, and the ability to intelligently manage the traffic of these services essentially at a moment’s notice,” explains Brown. “Combining F5 and ACI meets those needs, and we’re using the BIG-IQ platform to make the integration work best,” he continues. “We know what we’re getting with the F5/ACI fabric combination—it’s tangible and reliable, not guesswork.”
Benefits from Cisco ACI-F5 integrated solution deployment for West Corp: By consolidating data centers and standardizing on an integrated Cisco ACI and F5 application delivery infrastructure, West saves on IT costs, frees up IT resources to work on value-added projects, and gains more reliable systems and applications.
Next hop in our story is INSEE, a subsidiary of Siam City Cements, Thailand.
Challenges: Digitalization of Siam City Cements, short-timeframe to build a new data center to address digitalization needs, and leverage technology to meet strategic business needs.
The IT infrastructure at INSEE is designed to be reliable, flexible and secure to meet SCCC’s strategic business needs. To ensure its needs continue to be met in the future, INSEE embarked on an ambitious nine month project to build a new data center that consisted of an application-centric infrastructure (ACI) at its core, running ERP solutions from SAP and business applications such as Cisco Unified Communications. This application-centric approach would allow INSEE to continue being reliable, flexible and secure, even as the needs of SCCC changes and technologies evolve.
The growing partnership between Cisco and F5 provides additional opportunities to enhance its infrastructure, particularly around Cisco ACI. The F5 Device Package for Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller™ (APIC) lets INSEE configure application policies and requirements for F5 appliances across L2–7 fabrics. This ensures that applications receive the services and resources they require throughout the network, while also enabling organizations to automate systems for further efficiency and cost savings.
Benefits: INSEE’s Infrastructure team was able to set up the data center within 4 months of project inception. This was one month ahead of the project milestone, and before the applications team did its integration testing. With an Application Centric Infrastructure (Cisco ACI), INSEE can easily meet their application needs for the next ten years, all they have to do is simply stack the applications on top of the infrastructure.