Product Documentation

NetScaler Automation Using NetScaler MAS in Cisco ACI’s Hybrid Mode

Sep 22, 2016

Cisco ACI introduced support for Hybrid Mode in version 1.3 (2f). In Hybrid Mode, you can perform network automation through the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), while delegating the L4-L7 configuration to NetScaler MAS, which acts as a Device Manager in the APIC.

The NetScaler Hybrid Mode solution is supported by a hybrid mode device package and NetScaler MAS. You need to upload the hybrid mode device package in the APIC. This package provides all network L2-L3 configurable entities from NetScaler. Application parity is mapped by StyleBook from NetScaler MAS to the APIC. In other words, StyleBook acts as reference between L2-L3 and L4-L7 configurations for a given application. You must provide a StyleBook name while configuring the network entities from the APIC for NetScaler.

The following illustration provides an overview of NetScaler in a hybrid mode solution:

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In Hybrid Mode, the NetScaler configuration is performed in the following two phases:

  1. Network stitching is done from the Cisco APIC
  2. Configuration is done from the NetScaler MAS 

For any given application, a network administrator has to provide network specific details, such as IP addresses, port, VLAN (automated) and so on, as part of the service graph creation and deployment in the Cisco APIC. These configuration details are then pushed to NetScaler MAS through the device package, and NetScaler MAS internally processes them and configures the NetScaler ADC. An application administrator creates the application’s ADC related configuration by using StyleBook in NetScaler MAS, and these configurations are then pushed from NetScaler MAS to the NetScaler ADC. The Cisco APIC and NetScaler MAS communicate with the ADC through the management network. 

The following diagram shows a NetScaler workflow in the hybrid solution:

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