Official: Cisco Says The ACE is not dead. It’s just resting.

Spoke with a Cisco spokesperson regarding the ACE and what it’s product future looks like. Here is the official statement:

Cisco routinely reviews its business to determine where it needs to align investment based on growth opportunities. In assessing the data center market, which is undergoing a fundamental transformation with virtualization, cloud, and new service delivery models, Cisco is re-evaluating traditional load-balancing approaches, including its ACE product line, to ensure it continues meeting customer needs in this environment. Cisco will continue to support our current product portfolio. Cisco is not exiting the market, but as the market is evolving we are looking at new ways to deliver our load balancing technology. We will share additional details as they become available tweet

Yeah, OK. PR babble. Get over it.

As I said in my earlier article, Dim Future of the ACE and WAAS I take the view that Cisco is quitting the proprietary hardware business for the Application Control Engine.

Five years ago, 10 gigabit per second load balancing performance required custom silicon. Cisco loves to make it’s own silicon. And then embedding it into the Catalyst 6500 product line made sense.  

Today, you can get that sort of performance from an OEM Intel based motherboard and some good quality control on manufacturing. Look at A10 and Barracuda for these products.  However, the custom silicon makes developing software harder, expensive and slow. Slow is the worst of these because the product is inflexible and unable to change, adapt and add new features. That’s what is preventing the ACE product line from moving forward. 

So, moving the ACE kernel over to Intel motherboards would make sense. More features, faster and for cheaper. They just need to retool the development chain. 

If I was cynically minded, Cisco could be testing the market to see if enough customers (read, big customers) complain and kick up a big stink. 

The EtherealMind View

I’d expect to see the ACE on C-Series servers or an OEM server in the near future. The Cisco ACE doesn’t look likes it’s dead yet. It’s just resting

Warning: Cisco has been known to kill products after taking months to make a final decision. I’m by no means convinced that the ACE has a future, but I can see that Cisco might need to keep the product around as part of the overall data centre strategy.  

PS: Monty Python reference again. WINNING.

About Greg Ferro

Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count.

He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus

You can contact Greg via the site contact page.

  • tbourke

    For the ACE, Cisco doesn’t make its own silicon. They use the Cavium Octeon network processors (4710 has one of ‘em, ACE Service Module has two glued together). They’re open about that fact as well, it’s in their product materials.

    The problem being is that while they’re well powered for the Layer 4 stuff, they’re severely under-powered to do things like what iRules does.

  • Will

    I thought Barracuda has pretty awful load balancers – and certainly no 10Gb. I remember looking over their stats when I found that Barracuda, a year ago, was the only buisness with a guide for Lync.

    Before I saw their load balancer guide the only reason I knew of them as a network company were because of those flashy giant advertisements in airports.

  • Mrs. Y.

    ACE is resting on a private island in the Caribbean with the ACS, while Cisco tries to figure out its strategy for both.

    • Herr Nilsson

      No no, the ACE is flying around in the Norwegian Fyords wearing blue feathers.
      Beautiful plumage! ;)

  • MN

    While moving/redeveloping ACE for x86 architectures may improve speed and certainly lower cost, not sure if it will add functionality to get ACE to F5, Citrix, Radware levels

  • Pingback: As The Datacenter Turns… « The Data Center Overlords

  • Herr Nilsson

    - Hello miss!!
    - What??!!!
    - I’m sorry I have cold. Never mind that, I wish to make a complaint about this ACE module….

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