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F5 Networks advances its cloud vision

BIG-IP Virtual Edition now available in the Google Cloud, adding AWS and Azure

F5 Networks advances its cloud vision
Anand: The new products represents a significant step forward in the expansion of the company’s services in different cloud environments.

F5 Networks application services are now available in all major public cloud platforms. 

At the annual EMEA Agility partner and customer conference in Barcelona last week, F5 announced the availability of its services in Google Cloud, adding to the company’s presence in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure cloud platforms.

F5 Networks says this development is designed to provide consistent application services in multi-cloud environments.

The availability of F5 BIG-IP Virtual Edition (VE) in the Google Cloud means that organisations can now deploy F5 services in all major public clouds, explains Sangeeta Anand, SVP of product management and product marketing at F5. F5’s new ‘bring your own license’ offers caters for instances ranging from 25 Mbps to 5 Gbps, allowing customers greater choice.

“In Google Cloud, customers can deploy F5’s VE product across a number of multiple throughput forms of our VE products from 25 megabits upto 5GB throughput.  To enable customers on-board the services quickly and in an agile manner, we support the Google deployment templates as well,” she adds.  

F5’s 2017 State of Application Delivery report shows that while more customers than ever are shifting to cloud infrastructures, many are consciously choosing to invest in multiple cloud technologies. Eighty percent of survey respondents report that they are committed to multi-cloud architectures, and 20 percent state that they will have over half their applications running in the public and/or private clouds this year.

With this move to leverage multi-cloud environments, unexpected hurdles often present themselves: application deployments across multiple cloud platforms create challenges in managing application services; inconsistent security policies create compliance risks; and multiple cloud architectures put more pressure on IT skills gaps, and diminish the return on the cloud’s value.

F5’s cloud vision is to give customers the freedom to deploy any application anywhere with consistent application services and security, says Anand. “We believe every customer is on a cloud journey albeit at a different point in the journey. The adoption of these newer technology should be customised to their environment. Customers want the flexibility to migrate and manage their workloads in a manner that is right for them and their business.”

F5 also launched its Application Connector solution, which delivers application services insertion from the edge of the public cloud by automatically discovering cloud-hosted workloads in AWS, and securely connecting any cloud provider to the customer’s interconnection or data centre.

Anand says with the application connector product, customers can deploy one element in the public cloud, the second element on a Big-IP or VE, and then automatically discover the workloads running in the public clouds, enabling them apply F5 services to them.

On private cloud, F5 has announced the availability of a private cloud package for OpenStack. Customers love OpenStack for its flexibility, but there's a level of complexity and a skillset required to use OpenStack that organisation are having to contend with, notes Anand. “We thus want to reduce the time it takes to extend F5 services to workloads running on an OpenStack environment. The private cloud package will help do that,” says Anand.

The OpenStack solution is certified to run on a Red Hat OpenStack platform version 9.

For containerised environments, F5 also announced the availability of a container connector which essentially sits in a containerised environment and discovers the workloads that require an F5 service and then inserts those workloads into the appropriate service pools. This capability means F5 services are now available in a self-service containerised environment, says Anand.

Further to this was the launch of an application services proxy, a light weight load balancer that balances traffic between containers.

The take away from the F5 Agility 2017 is the significant application disruption on the way, says Anand. “But you have to ensure applications are still running faster, smarter and safer and the only way to do that is ensure consistency of services regardless where the applications are deployed,” she adds.

F5 Networks has been focused on cloud for a long time but the new products represents a significant step forward in the expansion of the company’s services in different cloud environments, whether it’s public, private or hybrid, says Anand.

Anand sees several benefits customers can gain from F5’s cloud initiatives. First, it reduces the time to on-board their workloads. Secondly, and critically for customers, it offers them the consistency of the services, so they have the same application services on Big-IP or a VE which they can extend that to a public cloud environment.

Third, customers are able to reduce the security attack surface because they are not exposing public IP addresses for those workloads. “Our solutions offers the flexibility in how you manage your SSL certificates. You can retain them on a Big-IP or a VE and have the workloads in the public cloud,” Anand explains.

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