Cisco ACE GSS 4400 Series Global Site Selector Appliances

Case Study: How Cisco IT Designed and Deployed the Cisco ACE GSS Global Site Selector Global Proximity and Disaster Recovery Solution

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What You Will Learn

Cisco IT migrated from its legacy Cisco ® DistributedDirector solution to Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE) Global Site Selector (GSS) Appliances in 2007. This document summarizes this migration and describes how Cisco IT used the capabilities found on the Cisco ACE GSS not supported on Cisco DistributedDirector.
In early 2007, Cisco IT had nearly 4000 applications running on more than 11,000 servers in its data centers, and this already large number of installed servers was growing at a rate of 15 percent per year. At the same time, Cisco IT had the following competing business needs:

• Reduce geographic risk by moving to lower-risk data center locations

• Improve business resiliency through data center facility resiliency

• Increase data center capacity for future business growth

• Improve business agility through increased server, storage, and network virtualization

• Enable clients located anywhere in the world to access core business applications any time under any circumstances

• Roll out multiple active data centers with the capability to localize client traffic

Business Benefits

To address these data center challenges, Cisco IT deployed Cisco ACE GSS and related Cisco technologies across four data centers to localize client traffic and to provide disaster recovery services.
The Cisco ACE GSS delivered the following business benefits:

• Increased application performance as seen by end users, be they employees, partners, or customers

• Easily deployed and established a predictable disaster recovery policy, flexible enough to support additions, moves, and changes for any networked application

• Scaled application global availability without massive increases in WAN bandwidth

• Implemented flexible global network policies that provides localization of client traffic without sacrificing the disaster recovery process


In the production environment, Cisco IT has deployed four Cisco ACE GSS clusters: in San Jose, California; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Hong Kong, China. The Cisco ACE GSS in San Jose will be the primary GSS manager (PGSSM), and the Cisco ACE GSS in Research Triangle Park will be the standby GSS manager (SGSSM). See Figure 1.

Figure 1. Cisco ACE GSS Deployments

Cisco IT selected Cisco ACE GSS for two types of deployments:

• Cisco used the Cisco ACE GSS unique proximity technology that uses Cisco IOS® Software routers to localize client traffic and provides data center persistence required for web-based applications.

• Cisco used the Cisco ACE GSS universal disaster recovery capability to meet Cisco recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) requirements.


Cisco IT determined that many applications could use the localization and disaster recovery features of Cisco ACE GSS. On the basis of this assessment, Cisco IT rolled out Cisco ACE GSS in the production environment, with an expansion plan to increase Cisco ACE GSS deployments worldwide. Cisco IT continues working toward these goals.
The deployment of Cisco ACE GSS has already yielded significant results:

• Cost savings resulting from localization of client traffic: Using the Cisco ACE GSS proximity technology, which redirects client traffic to the closest device supporting the requested application, Cisco IT has seen a reduction of intercontinental WAN traffic and reduced need for a costly upgrade to the existing WAN circuits.

• Faster response time: Global networked applications that use the Cisco ACE GSS proximity technology see significantly improved application response times and shortened file transfer times. Also, Cisco ACE GSS supports proximity with persistence, so those clients that have been localized always return to the same global application.

• Increased productivity for IT personnel: Norman Fong, network architect for Cisco says, "On the GSS we leverage the role-based access to allow the user community to configure their own proximity and disaster recovery policies. The implementation is so simple and transparent to the user community they believe they have a dedicated GSS solution... This approach allows for greater levels of productivity, because the user community does not have to wait when they want to make changes in the application's global availability or policy."

• Improved application security and stability: With Cisco ACE GSS, applications experience fewer, and shorter, client-affecting outages caused by hardware failure or system maintenance activities. Applications security is enhanced because Cisco ACE GSS can mitigate the effects of a Domain Name System (DNS)-based distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. This distinctive self-protection capability can be deployed to shield any DNS infrastructure such as Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) services and Microsoft-based client devices along with Microsoft Active Directory.

Next Steps

Cisco IT has been preparing for two major data center developments that will begin in late July 2008 and continue through 2009. The first is consolidation of all Cisco North American production data centers into a new facility located in Richardson, Texas, which will provide ample space for future expansion. The second is deployment of the new Cisco VFrame Data Center (DC) provisioning software solution, which will greatly enhance the way that Cisco IT manages servers, storage, and other I/O resources to create virtual computing services end to end in the data center. In both deployments, Cisco ACE GSS will be the cornerstone, providing worldwide localization and disaster recovery services and consolidating and strengthening the Cisco DNS architecture.

For More Information

The Cisco GSS 4492R Global Site Selector is a crucial component for enterprises and service providers deploying globally distributed data centers, installing disaster recovery solutions, or looking for a way to consolidate and strengthen the enterprise's DNS architecture. For the detailed information on the proximity technology used by Cisco IT and the other unique Cisco ACE GSS capabilities, see