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F5 Enabling Online App Services

It's familiar as reinventing the wheel: Companies head down the path to virtualization starting with static or dedicated servers, then do OS virtualization for test and development, followed by some form of data center consolidation. At each step along the way, they are left to deal with the same old problem--server management, which only gets worse as they delve deeper into virtualization.

Now, says Ken Salchow, manager of Technical Marketing for F5 Networks, customers are looking to break out of that old mold via the virtues of on-demand services--just click a button and there's your app, which puts an end to the inflexible mapping of users to physical machines.

"Customers want the control and capabilities from their traditional infrastructures, along with the simplicity and flexibility to outsource and make their applications totally virtual," Salchow declares, adding F5's solution to this dilemma is the dynamic services model, based on the company's newly introduced BIG-IP Version 10.2 software that helps extend enterprise data center architectures to the cloud, and enables on demand services.

F5 takes a holistic approach, which integrates multi-vendor solutions into a unified whole--and raises the specter of finger pointing in the cloud. Salchow, however, says not to worry, because no one vendor can do it all. As he puts it, "We can't solve all these problems alone, it's an ecosystem effort, and it's a matter of trying to tie all these things together. There's a lot of fear about what the cloud means."

This translates into F5's use of a virtual Application Delivery Controller (ADC) platform which "in combination with physical ADCs gives customers the unique ability to seamlessly extend their current operational model into multiple data centers, hosting providers, and cloud environments on demand, while utilizing the same trusted configuration, features, and control that they have developed over the years of application delivery deployment."

F5's new BIG IP Edge Gateway fits in by making it possible for enterprise users to simplify managing app services such as access, security and optimization within the company's new dynamic services model.

Salchow admits that there are still serious challenges to overcome, such as slower data rates between the cloud and the data center than users are accustomed to with their data center links. This means it takes longer to move images, which can become very large and unwieldy. He says that the smallest VM he ever built was 7 gigabits, "and that was just a workstation. You just can't move images fast enough." F5 aims to alleviate that pain by providing dynamic optimized tunnels that eliminate the manual processes involved in moving VMs from one location to another.

"Manual processes just don't cut it," he comments.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 04/22/2010 at 12:48 PM


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