Remote Integrated Service Engine (RISE) is a new protocol being added to the Nexus 7000 and 7700 platforms through NX-OS (software upgradeable to existing devices), that integrates service appliances to be attached to Nexus 7000 Series switches with the same benefits as if the appliance was directly connected to the switch backplane, as if it were a dedicated service module. Cisco RISE establishes a communication path between the network data plane and the service appliance, simplifying deployments and optimizing data paths with better traffic visibility within the data center.

RISE Logical View
RISE allows a physical services appliance to be connected to the Nexus 7000 switch as if it was directly connected to the chassis backplane, providing greater traffic visibility and optimization, with simplified connectivity

Initially, Citrix NetScaler Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) and the Cisco Prime Network Analysis Module (NAM) are the first services appliances that have integrated with RISE, and have been tested and Certified as “RISE-enabled”. With the announcement of RISE, we expect to develop an ecosystem of partners that will work with Cisco to take advantage of this technology, including other application services vendors and firewalls.

The service appliances (e.g., Citrix NetScaler and Cisco Prime NAM) are directly attached by standard network cable to RISE-configured ports on the Nexus 7000 Series switches in a typical virtual Port Channel (VPC) deployment. Appliances can also be attached in indirect mode through any switched (Layer 2) network. Either scenario (direct or indirect connection) allows for device and data path redundancy for fault tolerance.

There are several management advantages to connecting service nodes through RISE. First, RISE can be configured through the Nexus management console or management platform. However, the specific service appliance features are still configured using the existing device management tools.  This ensures separation of duties between the networking and security or application teams, as well as eliminating any additional management complexity from the RISE connection.

Joe Weber“RISE offers a unique ability to tightly couple Nexus 7000 Series switches and Service Appliances within the Data Center.  We believe that this integration will provide the business agility from an operational and deployment perspective that Data Center engineers have been looking for to reduce the time it takes to instantiate new or modify existing services.  Data-path optimization through the use of Auto-PBR (Policy Based Routes) will relieve the need for manual modifications during add/moves/changes and improve network traffic visibility for the Security/Server administrator.”  — Joe Weber, Technical Solutions Architect, World Wide Technology

RISE benefits for Citrix NetScaler
RISE greatly simplifies deployment of new appliances. Policy Based Routing (PBR) in the switch optimizes traffic flows to/through the ADC for better performance.

A key use case for RISE is for Application Delivery Controllers that are connected in one-arm mode (out of band to the main flow of switch traffic), which alleviates the ADC from being a bottleneck, and allows the ADC to process only traffic that is applicable. However, admins frequently have to manually configure policy-based routes to direct traffic to the ADC, as well as preserve all proper addressing to reverse the inbound path back to the client, which is a tedious process for each new application service, and prone to human error. RISE integration solves this problem with automated policy-based routing (PBR), where the ADC can simply obtain the Cisco Nexus switch parameters it needs to automatically implement the routes dynamically, as new services are provisioned. This significantly simplifies application scaling and cloud deployments by automating the addition and deletion of routes as additional workloads are brought online.

Some key advantages of RISE integration with Citrix NetScaler include:

  • Simplified provisioning: Auto-discovery and bootstrap capabilities reduce administrator involvement for NetScaler ADC direct-mode implementations from 30 steps to 8 steps.
  • Data-path optimization: Administrators can use Cisco RISE capabilities to configure a broad range of ADC device features to automate and optimize delivery of network services and traffic through the core switch.
  • ADC off-load: Cisco RISE integration frees Citrix NetScaler resources from having to manage ADC flows to help ensure that they are routed back through Citrix NetScaler. This feature enables more customers to adopt one-arm configurations, which allows better sizing and scaling of Citrix NetScaler, while preserving client visibility at the application layer.
  • Enhanced application availability: Real-time route updates between Citrix NetScaler and the Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switch eliminate route black-holing when application failures occur. By enabling Citrix NetScaler to deliver route health updates to the Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switch through Cisco RISE, the solution allows customers to more easily deploy shared services within and across data centers at a significantly reduced cost of operation with greater availability than ever before.
  • Integrated multi-tenancy support: Cisco RISE integration spans multi-tenancy features on both platforms: virtual device contexts (VDCs) on Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches, and the capability to run up to 80 independent Citrix NetScaler instances on a Citrix NetScaler SDX appliance, and up to 16 RISE clients on NetScaler VPX or MPX. This feature provides comprehensive flexibility to support multitenant scenarios, including the capability to set up Cisco Nexus VDCs and Citrix NetScaler instances in one-to-many, many-to-one, and a countless variety of many-to-many configurations.
  • Significant CapEx and OpEx savings: RISE provides enhanced data path optimizations and simplified provisioning that allows customers to witness significant CapEx and OpEx savings thereby providing business continuity and cost reduction.
  • Reduced Total cost of Ownership (TCO): Fully integrated with Nexus 7000 switches, RISE fosters simplified manageability, automated operation and increased utilization of application delivery resources.
  • Enhanced business resiliency: RISE helps accelerate the speed of application deployment and provides business agility using components that respond in real time to dynamic application requirements and newly provisioned resources.

RISE is available for customers in NX-OS release 6.2(8) on the Nexus 7000 and 7700 platform, currently scheduled for April, 2014, and requires the ENHANCED LAYER2 PKG license.

Qualified technology partners (appliance vendors) can join the RISE program to license RISE technology, receive an SDK and documentation, and engage in nominal joint development work with Cisco. The annual program fees also cover product testing, certification of the partner’s product as RISE-Enabled, and various marketing benefits. Integration inquiries and specifics of the RISE partner program can be directed to

For more information:

RISE: http://cisco.com/go/rise
Nexus 7000: http://cisco.com/go/nexus7000
Citrix NetScaler: http://www.citrix.com/products/netscaler-application-delivery-controller/overview.html
Cisco Prime NAM: http://cisco.com/go/nam
General RISE inquiries: mailto:rise-info@cisco.com


Gary Kinghorn

Sr Solution Marketing Manager

Network Virtualization and SDN