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F5 iApps: Cloud Ready!

Up in the "cloud" it's all about services. A service is defined as an application with all its dependencies and requirements. For example, if you are deploying Microsoft Exchange, you will need a certain number of servers to play different roles. You may or may not be deploying Outlook Web Access, etc. The collective pre-requisites for Exchange to work properly for enterprise users are called a service.

In the cloud era, it is all about deploying services, managing services and monitoring services. We don't want to manage a server as a standalone entity but rather we want to manage it in context with the service that it belongs to.

Now, what is the most complicated process of deploying a service? I can summarize by saying it is to gather all the necessary requirements for that application, and then putting it all together again. F5's iApps, which is available in version 11 of its Big IP, has an application-centric perspective on things. So, if you are trying to deploy a Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop load-balanced Web interface and access gateway for internal and external users, you would need a large amount of information, a specific subset of configuration and then accurate implementation. When all is said and done, you want to add monitoring capabilities to this new load balancing solution.

F5 streamlines the process by supporting a number of applications it calls an iApp. An iApp is the equivalent of a service as described earlier. What an iApp does when you choose to deploy XenApp or Exchange, is walk you through a series of "goal-oriented" questions that will determine how the service is deployed. Are you using XenApp for LAN, WAN or remote access? Are you using Outlook Web Access? And so on. It will then deploy all the requirements for this service, in addition to monitoring in a few minutes.

Basically F5 has taken all the documentation needed to configure and deploy an application, created an iApp out of it and made it easy to deploy, manage and monitor. Furthermore, iApps are portable. This means if you build an iApp tha is not available as part of the product, you can share the iApp'ed version with others or even download iApps from others for your use.

Now these technologies and concepts are not earth-shattering or game-changing. They are, however, necessary for the age of cloud, where deployment, provisioning, management and monitoring are expected in a streamlined and automated manner, and where applications are being considered as a single entity rather than a collection of technologies.

I find iApps extremely helpful but I want to get your perspective on them if you have used them or are familiar with them. Post your thoughts here.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 11/01/2011 at 12:49 PM


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