Monday, 17 February 2020 14:47

F5 tracks 'code to customer' data flows

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F5 Networks executive vice president and general manager of application services Kara Sprague F5 Networks executive vice president and general manager of application services Kara Sprague

Organisations going through digital transformation projects want consistent outcomes, F5 Networks executive vice president and general manager of application services Kara Sprague told iTWire, especially in the areas of improved customer experiences, return on digital investment, and greater business agility.

On that last point, organisations are prepared to make large investments in operations so they can be more responsive. But there are challenges, she said:

Infrastructure lock-in – 87% of F5's customers are adopting a multicloud strategy, but infrastructure lock-in is preventing some application migrations.

Complex compliance and security requirements – not every organisation faces these issues, but they can affect agility and speed to market, she said, and this can be "an unwinnable choice."

Tool sprawl – adopting new technology and new cloud providers to implement new applications or move existing apps to other platforms may require new tool chains. The resulting tool sprawl can lead to increased complexity and cost.

Visibility – "Applications are the most valuable asset of a modern company" but organisations aren't managing their applications in line with that value. F5 has a particular focus on identifying applications in use, where they run, measuring their availability, and so on.

F5's "code to customer" portfolio of technology and services can measure all application traffic flows through to the end user.

Organisations typically use seven to nine different pieces of technology such as application servers, load balancers, DDoS protection, and CDNs, usually from different vendors, to run on average 800 applications.

This diverse infrastructure, coupled with organisational silos make it difficult or impossible to see the whole picture and determine the root cause of performance issues.

F5's response, she told iTWire, is a portfolio that includes the recently acquired Nginx line plus Big-IP and other products that can provide a comprehensive end-to-end view as well as being best-in-class when it comes to technologies such as applications server, ingress control, load balancing and web applications firewall.

The company provides "comprehensive coverage and deep capabilities," she said.

Furthermore, these products can run on any infrastructure, including SaaS, containers, virtual machines, any of the top six public clouds, off-the-shelf hardware, and F5's own hardware.

Big-IP and Nginx "now sit in the line of traffic for around half of the world's applications."

F5 is the only vendor that provides all these functions with the application logic separated from the infrastructure, she claimed.

Companies do not want to rip and replace existing systems, and F5's approach provides a way to bridge traditional and modern applications. Mixed environments are going to be the rule for some time, and F5 makes them manageable, in part by allowing migration without refactoring.

F5 Networks ANZ vice president Jason Baden said Australian customers are quickly adopting cloud platforms and are using F5 products on premises, and in private and public clouds.

The company is particularly strong in the banking and finance, telecommunications, and government sectors, he said.

F5 acquired security vendor Shape Security in January 2020, and plans to apply its AI platform across the code-to-customer architecture.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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