Cisco CSP 2100 and Avi Networks | The Power of NFV

Guru Chahal
Posted on Jul 20, 2016 10:00:00 AM

This post was originally published on Cisco Cloud  Blogs, and was co-authored by Gunnar Anderson (Product Manager, Cisco Cloud Services Platform) and Guru Chahal (VP, Product, Avi Networks)

Until recently, the promise of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) was largely confined to service providers who were looking to improve efficiencies by leveraging Virtualized Network Functions (VNF) running on x86 machines. Not anymore. With the Cisco Cloud Services Platform (CSP) 2100, mainstream enterprises now have an opportunity to take advantage of NFV quickly and easily.  The CSP 2100 is also being used by service providers in non-OpenStack environments.

Let us look at the first principles of NFV that make it attractive to enterprises. NFV is designed to support fully virtualized networking components with a goal to automating network services through:

  • Standard x86 servers
  • Virtualized/software-based functions
  • API-driven approach
  • Elastic scale

The challenge has been the level of expertise required to deploy network functions on generic hardware. The CSP 2100 and Avi Vantage together provide a turn-key solution for the rapid deployment of application services such as load balancing, on an elastic NFV platform, without requiring any additional expertise. The centralized management – key to both Avi Vantage and the CSP 2100 – ensures that administrators can efficiently roll out elastic, high-performance, load balancing and application monitoring capabilities.

The CSP 2100 delivers turn-key NFV capabilities on an open x86 Linux/KVM software and hardware platform delivered in a convenient appliance form factor that provides the agility of software with the performance benefits of hardware. The figure below summarizes the best-in-class processing and networking capabilities of the CSP 2100 platform. With a single CSP 2100 appliance supporting 10s of Gbps of throughput, 10s of thousands of SSL TPS, and several million concurrent connections, performance in no longer a concern for network functions – especially when combined with the ability of the system to seamless scale to several Terabits per second of throughput, and millions of SSL TPS as a single elastic load balancer!

Fig: CSP 2100 - High Level Architecture


So, how do you take advantage of this power and make this easily consumable and deployable by network teams?

Software-defined ADC meets NFV

Perhaps one of the most obvious network functions where the flexibility of the CSP 2100 can be put to immediate advantage is load balancing. ADCs have a long history of requiring proprietary hardware. In the past, you couldn’t argue with this – purpose-built physical network appliances were needed to deliver the throughput that high-traffic applications demanded. After all, load balancers sat in the traffic path and if they were to avoid being a choke point, they had better deliver solid performance. But, the same market forces and technological changes in x86 performance that have made technologies like NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) possible, are also driving innovative changes in load balancing – now enabling high performance implementation of load balancing and application delivery functions on standard x86. With its software-defined architecture of separating the control and data planes, Avi Vantage is best positioned to leverage the power of the NFV capabilities that the CSP 2100 delivers. Avi Vantage provides the capabilities of an enterprise and carrier class ADC in an elastic, software-only solution, which goes beyond load balancing to deliver pinpoint application analytics, security, application visibility, and predictive autoscaling. The platform provides central management (control plane) over distributed load balancing resources (data plane) that are deployed close to applications.

Fig: Avi Vantage - High Level Architecture


Avi Vantage in the Cisco CSP 2100 environment 

(Avi Controller and Avi Service Engines can be deployed on a single or multiple CSP 2100s)


Turnkey, scalable ADC/LB for NFV deployments

With Avi Vantage and the CSP 2100, enterprises and service providers are no longer confined to the use of proprietary, purpose-built appliances or their poorer virtual appliance cousins. Avi provides an ADC/Load Balancing solution that truly enables the promise of NFV. With Avi, new load balancers can be provisioned within seconds and virtual services configured instantaneously with a single REST API call. The platform also leverages the inline location of the Avi Service Engines to gather application data, processes them with a big data engine in the Avi Controller and presents insightful performance, security, and end-user analytics about applications. The Avi Vantage GUI and CLI deliver a single point of management and control across all the load balancing resources in the data center or hybrid cloud deployments. With its software-defined architecture and real-time analytics, the platform enables predictive and intelligent autoscaling of load balancing resources through analysis of traffic thresholds. Enterprises and Service Providers can autoscale network services within a single CSP 2100 or across a cluster of several CSP 2100s.

Large customers of Cisco and Avi Networks have already seen the flexibility and agility that the combination of the CSP 2100 and Avi Networks provide. Avi Networks will be showing the capabilities of the Avi Vantage Platform, running on the CSP 2100 platform, at booth #1024 at Cisco Live in Las Vegas this week as well as in the Cisco investment partner pavilion (booth #1721). Avi Networks welcomes the opportunity to share more with you at the show.  Also, you can get hands-on with the CSP 2100 Platform software at the Walk-in Self Paced Lab #2011.

Many thanks to Guru Chahal, VP of Products at Avi Networks, for his help in writing this joint blog. And thanks to several members of Avi Networks engineering and Cisco’s CSP 2100 engineering team who have been working closely together the last several months to integrate and optimize the combined solution.


Topics: Cisco Live, NFV, Data Center, CSP 2100, Cisco CSP

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