Citrix and Cisco have been partners for years. We’ve delivered some of the world’s largest virtual desktop installations together using UCS, Nexus, and XenDesktop. With the joint experiences tying together applications, infrastructure, and networking, it was a natural step for us to collaborate and solve some of the datacenter’s most pressing problems rather than go it alone.

To say mobility has been a massive disruption is an understatement.  We all understand how it has changed the way users fundamentally interact with the enterprises. But what we don’t talk about is how it has changed the requirements of the datacenter. The drastic shift has required us to reexamine the interaction of apps and mobile users and its implications on next generation cloud networks.

What we observe are three things:

  1. Application fluency is foundational: In order for datacenter networks to react to the interaction between mobile users and applications,   it is a foundational requirement to understand the application semantics and how these mobile interactions affect network architectures.
  2. Services need to be software: The adoption of software for networking services is key for creating a truly malleable solution. Software driven services enable datacenters to react quickly to changes in user interactions, mobile service deployments and broadly the overall application context. This makes it possible to integrate the right network services in the right place for the right need.
  3.  The solution needs to be unified vs. integrated: For all the talk about how the datacenter is changing, people that manage datacenters still tell us that when possible, they still want one person to call, one person they can hold accountable i.e. the leverage of a truly unified solution.

So how do we get there? We redefine the datacenter service delivery playbook.

Application Fluency is Foundational

Citrix NetScaler has been on the forefront of application fluency for over a decade. With the advent of cloud architectures, we identified that the core network needed to gain application fluency. Hence we started with the solution that was already empowering application virtualization with true switching fabrics: the Cisco Nexus 7000. Working together, we’ve been able to create an industry first: a logical link that makes the NetScaler appear as a service blade on the Cisco Nexus 7000. The result makes the core network fabric application fluent while dramatically simplifying the deployment of application delivery services.

As we explore the link between the products, we foresee all kinds of creative solutions to complex networking problems where datacenters have had to forego application fluency to accommodate network topologies. With this new link, we will be able to address these limitations and make topology a non-issue in the future.

Services need to be Software

Different applications need different network services to drive them. Some need just an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) such as a NetScaler, others need additional security from a modern firewall. Whatever the case may be, the resulting requirements from applications have resulted in “stove-pipe” topologies which create needless duplication of network infrastructure simply because of limitations in physical connectivity and network separation. We look forward to seeing this combination later this calendar year.

With Cisco’s vPath (http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/vpath-the-secret-sauce-to-enabling-virtual-network-services/) service chaining technology added to Citrix NetScaler, we’ve worked around this limitation. Using the Cisco Nexus 1000 virtual switch in a Nexus powered datacenter, a vPath enabled NetScaler can now be woven into the path of any application in any part of the network without having to change any physical network topology.

The Solution needs to be Unified

So we have solved some technical problems. And we’ve addressed real business needs for enabling true datacenter agility. We’re even working on a Cisco validated solution guide. But if there is an issue with NetScaler integrated into the broader Cisco fabric, who do you call? Citrix , Cisco … Ghostbusters?

As announced this morning,  Cisco has integrated in Citrix NetScaler and will be making it available on the Cisco Nexus 1110 platform, UCS server, and generic x86 servers. The result, Citrix NetScaler 1000V – sold and supported exclusively through Cisco. With performance up to 4Gbps, we expect it to address a wide range of ADC requirements demanded by Enterprises, Cloud Providers and Telcos.

 

When we set out to address what both companies felt was a major shift in the datacenter landscape, we were both pleased at the prospect of extending our relationship further in the realm of intelligent application delivery services in the core data center fabric. Today we’ve seen that work finally announced and we’re excited by the progress so far. At the same time, we know that there is a lot more to do and more to come. Stay tuned!