With Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) version 3.1 Citrix NetScaler, and Cisco ACI expand the joint integration portfolio to provide a new solution addressing customer’s needs. The new integration mode, ACI Cloud Orchestrator Mode, simplifies L4-L7 integrations by abstracting configuration complexity through standardized parameters. The solution works seamlessly to automate L4-L7 services, achieving the goals of agile application deployments, operational flexibility, and simplicity.
The Cisco ACI cloud orchestrator mode by using NetScaler solution provides the following benefits:
- Automation of L4-L7 services reduces the human error.
- The pre-built integration of Cisco ACI solution helps you in reducing the deployment time, and increases the performance of applications, such as web applications, virtual machines, and SQL.
- Fully integrated visibility into the health of applications such as web applications, virtual machines, and SQL across physical and virtual network components.
The ACI cloud orchestrator mode now gives you more choices to utilize the new simplified APIC GUI directly or by selecting any cloud orchestrator, such as Cisco Cloud Center, Windows Azure Pack, OpenStack, vRealize, or any other based on your preference. This new change is achieved by exposing a set of ADC attributes as ADC schema. These attributes are mapped in the device packages function profiles. You can provide values for these attributes while provisioning the ADC service by the cloud orchestrator (Cisco Cloud Center or Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)).
The following illustration provides an overview of NetScaler in a cloud orchestration solution:
The cloud orchestrator mode solution using Microsoft Azure Pack involves many integration points, such as Azure Pack to Cisco APIC, Cisco APIC to System Central virtual machine Manager (SCVMM), and Cisco APIC to NetScaler. As a tenant in the private cloud, you can enable NAT, provision network services, and can add a load balancer.
Azure Pack supports tenant and administrator portals, and each of them has their own set of operations that can be performed.
- As an administrator, you can perform administrative tasks such as ACI registration, VIP range, NetScaler device association with virtual machine cloud, and tenant user account creation.
- As a tenant, you can perform tasks such as log on to the Azure Pack tenant Portal and configure the network, bridge domains, and Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRFs), and can use the NetScaler load balancing and RNAT features.
The following illustration provides an overview of Azure Pack in a cloud mode solution:
The cloud orchestrator mode device package supports both fully managed mode and service manager mode. The fully managed mode package supports a wide variety of function profiles, such as simple load balancing, content switching, SSL offload, and other profiles. These function profiles cover a complete feature set and deployment mode of the NetScaler. Similarly, service manager mode device package supports one-arm and two-arm configuration and deployment of NetScaler using APIC. The NetScaler Management and Analytics System (MAS) acts as service manager for APIC and you can use NetScaler MAS to configure NetScaler L4-L7 parameters.
Cloud orchestrator mode function profile has a set of parameters mapped to APICs ADC schema and the orchestrator uses these parameters. The cloud orchestrator provides the values for ADC parameters (VIP, while provisioning the NetScaler through APIC). The orchestrator communicates with APIC’s APIs and passes the ADC specific details as part of the payload for a specific function profile. Internally, APIC extracts the values and passes them to the device package which configures the NetScaler internally.
For more information on the complete list of ADC schema’s, which are supported by Cisco APICs, see Cisco APIC Layer 4 to Layer 7 Services Deployment Guide, Release 3.1(1).
The fully managed mode device package supports the following function profiles:
The service manage mode device package supports the following cloud mode function profiles:
NetScaler supports the above-mentioned function profiles. The APIC supports a subset of these parameters in the ADC schema. If there are any unsupported attributes by Cisco ACI present in the function profile, you have to clone the cloud orchestrator mode function profile and provide the values for all unsupported attributes by APIC and must save the attributes. Later, the orchestrator can use the newly cloned function profile.
Citrix Cloud Mode Device Package supports NetScaler 12.0 and service manager mode uses NetScaler MAS 12.0 as well. Device package has changed the model version from 1.0 to 2.0 and can be used as a new install. Cloud orchestrator Mode Device package cannot be upgraded from previous device package versions since the model version is changed.
Cloud orchestrator Mode device packages can be used in regular deployment as well. The package does not mandate user to provision NetScaler through any cloud orchestrator. The device package is compatible with just APIC and APIC with cloud orchestrator.