F5 Makes Big Deal of Applications with Latest BIG-IP Version
F5 Networks is hoping to turn the networking world on its ear by pushing the idea of an application-centric network.
That’s why the vendor’s latest version of its BIG-IP application delivery services offering approaches network management from an application-centric perspective, enabling IT managers to manage the services each application offers as a group rather than on an individual basis. In other words, the security policies of every application on a network, for example, can be handled at once rather than individually, saving IT administrators oodles of time and reducing potential conflicts between applications.
What’s the technology behind this integration? F5 has termed it iApp (the “i” stands for “integration”), which is a series of templates that associate specific services into single, per-application policies for quick provisioning. In a nutshell, these templates allow for business policy-driven configuration and IT collaboration, driving automation and provisioning deeper into the management of the entire network while utilizing a structure that is both reusable and portable between F5 devices, said Eric Giesa, vice president of product management and marketing at F5.
“We’re taking the process of optimizing the network for specific applications, which used to take IT staff weeks to perform, and streamlining it into a process that takes hours,” he said. “Plus, iApps are portable much like virtual machines.”
Version 11 of BIG-IP expands on F5’s vision of the dynamic data center, which the company announced support for in May 2011 its VIPRION 2400 ADC and complementary Virtual Clustered Multiprocessing (vCMP) technology – technology that Geisa said can be “transformative” for VARs working with customers that have dynamic data center needs.
“Version 11 gives us the ability to unify application security, network access, acceleration and more into one single pane for management,” he said. “The challenge, especially with virtual apps, has been how to make apps adhere to models. It’s difficult to manage, especially as part of a data center. But the iApps templates associate specific sets of services into single, per-application policies that can be moved around as needs change.”
F5 will make available 23 iApps for partner application such as Microsoft Exchange, for example. The iApps will live on F5’s DevCentral community, which also will provide technical expertise and guidance for iApp users. Developers also have the ability to customize iApps to suit their own needs and make available their own iApps on DevCentral.
Using the iApp for Exchange, for example, Geisa noted the number of provisioning steps drops from 1,200 to 13.
Version 11 is slated for a mid-September availability, and will be available as either a physical or virtual appliance. Pricing will range from $995 for a lab edition for testing to about $6,000 for a virtual appliance and up to about $130,000 for a carrier-class physical appliance.
F5 will be providing free training for partners July 25, 2011, when it also plans to launch the iApp site on DevCentral. More information about the free training can be had here.