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F5 execs: We're blasting virtualization beyond Layer 3

John Gallant | Nov. 12, 2013
F5 Networks puts focus on network and service virtualization.

John, does your direction with Synthesis speak to a hardware-less future for F5?
McAdam: The short answer to that is yes. I think it's going to be an evolution, not a revolution. Obviously we will continue to use hardware. We just announced a DDoS service capability, where we've actually proved some of the DDoS prevention in hardware is much faster and DDoS is by definition a volume type scenario. Having said that, we've completely embraced the overall concept of software solutions on their own and as a hybrid. So if you look at the solutions we've got, we don't really care if the customer wants to just apply a software-only solution or use our appliances or does a hybrid. The key to that is the fact that we've got this technology called Scale-N that allows you to scale across software and hardware, so you can scale up and down, you can scale across. Even more important is the fact that our BIG-IQ orchestration engine will manage a software version of our product the same way as it manages a system version, and basically allow you to work either in a cloud or on-premises. We're really pretty flexible with that. But in terms of the actual question — Yeah, I do think there's going to be more of a move. We're seeing that. If you look at the software solutions as part of our revenue, it's been growing pretty aggressively, but it's still a small part.

Talk about these reference architectures, which Zeus referred to as recipes for how people would deploy this. Explain how that works.
Rivelo: Let's give you an example. Because we have all these services, this catalog of services that we talked about, they can manifest themselves in lots of different ways. And because, as John pointed out, we can interconnect the fabric in different ways -- cloud, physical, virtual, etc. - we can solve lots of different problems in lots of different places inside a customer's network. So, for example, we can do DDoS mitigation or protection, and that's usually a perimeter service, somebody coming into the network. But we could also secure a web application, as an example, or we can provide intelligent DNS or even, for service providers, things like LTE roaming solutions. We created this concept of reference architectures because they're actually the real problems that customers are trying to solve. And they can solve all these problems using the same component. It's just how you enable the component and what services you decide to enable at that place inside the network. We launched 11 reference architectures. They come with what we call a bill of material, or BOM, that has nine components inside that. That's technical documentation, solution diagrams, architecture diagrams, etc., helping our sales organization and our channel partners take that message to the customer. They are recipes. That's a way to look at it, ways of cooking up, if you will, the Synthesis portfolio, and we will continue to keep these reference architectures up to date as well as build new ones. It isn't as if 11 was a magical number, it was just what we could take to market based on the work required in the first stage.

 

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