It’s been well over a year now since Cisco announced the end-of-life date for its 4710 Application Control Engine (ACE). In fact, come this January, you won’t be able to order a new ACE service contract at all. If you rely on ACE hardware for load balancing in your environment, the writing is on the wall, and it’s time to look at your options for your Cisco ACE replacement.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves discussing your replacement, let’s consider why you purchased the Cisco ACE in the first place.

  • You invest in industry-leading products with a history of excellent support.
  • You run a high-performance environment, and you need an enterprise-class solution.
  • You want deep integration between your load balancers and the rest of your network.

Choose the right technology.

Last year, we wrote our take on the state of Application Delivery Controllers (PDF). Since then, Cisco echoed our recommendation by announcing a partnership with F5 Networks at Cisco Live 2014. As we noted in our review, Gartner recognizes F5 Networks as the industry leader in Application Delivery Solutions. F5’s extensible TMOS architecture delivers comprehensive L4-L7 services, and its advancements in acceleration, traffic management and security continue to challenge our concept of an Application Deliver Controller’s role.

Don’t start at zero.

A successful migration doesn’t need to from scratch. In fact, most successful projects follow a solid, repeatable process. Even before Cisco announced its new partnership, F5 Networks was replacing Cisco ACE devices in Fortune 50 companies. Now that the two have an official partnership, F5 Networks used this experience to develop the industry’s most comprehensive Cisco ACE migration plan. When starting your Cisco ACE replacement, make use of the work that F5 Networks and Cisco did together on implementing the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) model, and save time by migrating your existing ACE configuration to F5 Networks BIG-IP.

Trust the right people.

You have the right technology and the right plan, but now you need to execute. Don’t put your trust in just anyone who claims to be an expert. Whether your resources are internal or external, experience matters when it comes to successfully replacing Cisco ACE load balancers. Administration of a BIG-IP appliance can be very different from initial deployment, and an experienced deployment team will make your new environment much easier to manage in the future. Do your due diligence. Surrounding yourself with experienced people will ensure your great plan becomes a great reality.