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End-of-Life (EoL) for the Cisco ACE Load-Balancer

CRN quoted Cisco as confirming rumors about the ACE being dead.

Cisco has decided it will not develop further generations of its ACE load-balancing products.

I suppose I was cursed from the start with the Cisco ACE Module. In late 2006 / early 2007, I attempted to rollout a couple of ACE10 modules after getting a great many assurances that the product was ready for prime-time since it had only been released 9 months earlier; the claim was the platform was stable and on v3 of the code. 

Unable to launch a new site after running into a couple of severe bugs, we had to ditch the ACE Modules and find another load-balancer.  We encountered bugs in the platform from not being able to persist persistent connections for L5 rules to randomly resetting the TCP MSS to values greater than negotiated in the beginning of the flow for which firewalls didn’t take kindly too.

I became the first CAP (Customer Assurance Program) case for the ACE that resulted in CSS load-balancers (which we had been using at another data center and knew quite well) being shipped to in the eleventh-hour so we could launch.

The ACE modules sat unused in our 6500′s from 2007-2011 when they were brought back to life to handle the load-balancing for the sites of a recent acquisition. They’ve worked farily well for them over a year now.  After getting used to the MQC framework in a load-balancer (which never made sense to me to force an application device to be configured like a switch or router — probably had something to do with underlining hardware architecture and reuse of code), they’ve been humming along without any trouble in sight — non-technical trouble, that is …. until now.  The CSS has been our workhorse for the last decade, but now, with the news from Cisco on their future (or lack thereof) in the Application Delivery Controller space, I’ll need to talk to F5 or Citrix (even possibly via a Cisco OEM agreement).

Tony Bourke of The Data Center Overloads has an excellent post on the Requiem for the ACE.


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