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Application services meet up with SDN in the cloud

Stephen Lawson | Nov. 6, 2013
F5 Networks has created a new architecture to make it easier to provide application services such as security and acceleration in the age of virtualization and clouds

The new licensing is available now, and customers can start implementing Synthesis with the BIG-IP and BIG-IQ platforms immediately, MacVittie said. Additional capabilities will come over the next two or three years.

With the ScaleN fabric, F5 is updating the way its technology scales to bring it in line with how SDNs and virtualized data centers expand, IDC analyst Brad Casemore said. This will force IT shops to change the way they think about application services, but with a revolution going on in networking, this is the right time to do so, he said.

F5's rivals, including Citrix Systems' NetScaler business, are moving in the same direction, Casemore said. Citrix has a partnership with Cisco and announced earlier this year that NetScaler would work with SDNs based on VMware's NSX architecture.

Synthesis should work with all architectures for SDN, according to F5. It includes a set of APIs for communicating services requirements to SDN and virtualization platforms. VMware, Hewlett-Packard, Arista Networks, Big Switch Networks, Dell and other SDN vendors will endorse Synthesis, Darwin said.

But enterprises shouldn't worry about getting locked in to exclusive stacks of SDN and application-services software, Casemore said. With giant Web-scale network builders such as Google and Facebook calling their own shots in their data centers, other large IT shops are demanding more from vendors, either by themselves or through organizations such as Open Networking User Group (ONUG), Casemore said. He thinks F5 will make Synthesis work with all the SDN vendors that customers demand.

The new licensing model will probably simplify purchasing of F5 products, which hasn't been the company's strong suit, analyst Kerravala said. F5's purchasing model until now has been best suited to enterprises with the expertise to know what products to buy, he said. Now more IT shops are looking for packaged solutions, such as Hewlett-Packard FlexFabric or Cisco UCS, and F5's new licensing helps it address that trend, Kerravala said.

While Synthesis may help some customers save money, especially at first, the new method of scaling up F5's products also has an upside for the vendor, Casemore said. "I imagine it will be stickier for them as a vendor," he said. "They should see increased revenues over time."

 

 

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