Unify Visibility with F5 ACI ServiceCenter in Cisco ACI and F5 BIG-IP Deployments
What is F5 ACI ServiceCenter?
F5 ACI ServiceCenter is an application that runs natively on Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), which provides administrators a unified way to manage both L2-L3 and L4-L7 infrastructure in F5 BIG-IP and Cisco ACI deployments. Once day-0 activities are performed and BIG-IP is deployed within the ACI fabric, F5 ACI ServiceCenter can then be used to handle day-1 and day-2 operations. F5 ACI ServiceCenter is well suited for both greenfield and brownfield deployments.
F5 ACI ServiceCenter is a successful and popular integration between F5 BIG-IP and Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). This integration is loosely coupled and can be installed and uninstalled at anytime without any disruption to the APIC and the BIG-IP. F5 ACI ServiceCenter supports REST API and can be easily integrated into your automation workflow: F5 ACI ServiceCenter Supported REST APIs.
Where can we download F5 ACI ServiceCenter?
F5 ACI ServiceCenter is completely Free of charge and it is available to download from Cisco DC App Center. F5 ACI ServiceCenter is fully supported by F5. If you run into any issues and/or would like to see a new feature or an enhancement integrated into future F5 ACI ServiceCenter releases, you can open a support ticket here.
Why should we use F5 ACI ServiceCenter?
F5 ACI ServiceCenter has three main independent use cases and you have the flexibility to use them all or to pick and choose to use whichever ones that fit your requirements:
F5 ACI ServiceCenter provides enhanced visibility into your F5 BIG-IP and Cisco ACI deployment. It has the capability to correlate BIG-IP and APIC information. For example, you can easily find out the correlated APIC Endpoint information for a BIG-IP VIP, and you can also easily determine the APIC Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRF) to BIG-IP Route Domain (RD) mapping from F5 ACI ServiceCenter as well. You can efficiently gather the correlated information from both the APIC and the BIG-IP on F5 ACI ServiceCenter without the need to hop between BIG-IP and APIC. Besides, you can also gather the health status, the logs, statistics etc. on F5 ACI ServiceCenter as well.
L2-L3 Network Configuration
After BIG-IP is inserted into ACI fabric using APIC service graph, F5 ACI ServiceCenter has the capability to extract the APIC service graph VLANs from the APIC and then deployed the VLANs on the BIG-IP. This capability allows you to always have the single source of truth for network configuration between BIG-IP and APIC.
L4-L7 Application Services
F5 ACI ServiceCenter leverages F5 Automation Toolchain for application services:
- Advanced mode, which uses AS3 (Application Services 3 Extension)
- Basic mode, which uses FAST (F5 Application Services Templates)
F5 ACI ServiceCenter also has the ability to dynamically add or remove pool members from a pool on the BIG-IP based on the endpoints discovered by the APIC, which helps to reduce configuration overhead.
F5 ACI ServiceCenter can manage multiple BIG-IPs - physical as well as virtual BIG-IPs. If Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) is enabled on the interfaces between Cisco ACI and F5 BIG-IP, F5 ACI ServiceCenter can discover the BIG-IP and add it to the device list as well. F5 ACI Service can also categorize the BIG-IP accordingly, for example, if it is a standalone or in a high availability (HA) cluster. Starting from version 2.11, F5 ACI ServiceCenter supports multi-tenant design too. These are just some of the features and to find out more, check out F5 ACI ServiceCenter User and Deployment Guide.
F5 ACI ServiceCenter Resources
- F5 DevCentral Youtube Videos: F5 ACI ServiceCenter Playlist
- Cisco Learning Video: Configuring F5 BIG-IP from APIC using F5 ACI ServiceCenter
- Cisco ACI and F5 BIG-IP Design Guide White Paper