Don’t take that too literally. What’s really happening is that the Cisco chassis thinks of a neighboring Citrix box as one of its own line cards. The capability is only for the Nexus 7000 so far.
It’s made possible by the Remote Integrated Services Engine (RISE), a technology launched at Interop last week but overshadowed by news of Cisco’s Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and discussion of policy-driven SDN. Today, Citrix is announcing that Netscaler is the first, and so far only, partner authorized for RISE.
RISE, coming available at the end of April, automatically configures Netscalers to work with Nexus 7000s; these can be one-to-many connections in either direction.This turns the Netscaler into a remote services blade, as Cisco puts it.
From that point, the Netscaler and Nexus 7000 will be able to automatically keep in sync in terms of routing tables and the like. Eventually, this will mean the Nexus can handle all routing for the Netscaler, so that the latter box doesn’t require a full routing stack; this ability won’t be immediately available and doesn’t have an announced timeframe for release.
Now that Cisco has stopped developing its own ADCs, RISE provides a way to insert functionality such as firewalls and load balancers into the Nexus. That’s important because the Nexus 7000 is the de facto successor to the flagship Catalyst 6500 switch. Over the years, the Catalyst has absorbed more and more functions in the form of specialty blades — so many that I’ve sometimes wondered if anyone deploys the 6500 without doing any actual packet switching. RISE gives Nexus a simpler path toward matching those capabilities.