The reimagining of app delivery for an agile, multi-cloud world

Applications have become an asset class that is arguably more important for organizations than human talent. Companies typically use hundreds or even thousands of applications.

Further, nearly nine in 10 companies are using multiple clouds, with more than half of cloud decisions being made on a per-application basis. Managing and protecting these widely distributed corporate assets is a daunting challenge.

In this new context, F5’s acquisition of NGINX, an open source leader in application delivery, aims to enable multi-cloud application services across all environments, bridging the divide between NetOps and DevOps teams. The melding of F5’s application security and application services portfolio and NGINX’s application delivery and API management solutions provide developers with ease-of-use and flexibility and network operations teams with scale, security, reliability and enterprise readiness.

“The combined company will enable every customer – from the app developer to the network engineer to the security specialist – with the tools they need to ensure their apps are available and secure across every platform, from the enterprise data center to private and public clouds,” said François Locoh-Donou, President and CEO of F5.

Open source is a core part of F5’s multi-cloud strategy and a driver for F5’s next phase of innovation. Valuing the trust that a thriving open source community has in NGINX’s technology, F5 plans to accelerate its product integrations with open source projects via technology partnerships with open source vendors. It will also speed up time to market of application services for modern, containerized applications.

Colossal shifts

“The stability and speed of the network today enables application delivery to enter a new era in which the network allows us to act as a distributed, scalable system,” said Ryan Kearny, CTO and SVP of Product Development at F5 Networks. “By leveraging the ability of containers and container orchestration to provide mechanisms akin to that of process management and treating the network as if it were more like named pipes between processes, we can design a seamlessly scalable and endlessly extensible architecture for application delivery. This endeavor is guided by a set of design principles that demand attention to not only functionality and features, but operational necessities and multi-cloud realities.”

The pervasive adoption of cloud computing and utility-based cost model has inspired and enabled the consumption of highly distributed components and economies of cloud scale. Component-level specialization enables developers to focus on features that add value and leverage modern methodologies like Agile and DevOps approaches and principles to automate and orchestrate integration, build and testing.

This paves the way for application delivery to be reimagined as a distributed delivery stack unshackled by either software or hardware.

Aspen Mesh is an example of thinking outside the box about application delivery. One of the first fruits of F5’s corporate incubation program, it is aimed at developing enhanced solutions to better support modern application services, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. It also marks F5’s efforts to deliver an easily consumed and managed portfolio of application services from a fully hosted SaaS platform.

Another example is F5’s new delivery model that leverages the Amazon Web Services (AWS) SaaS Enablement Framework and extends its cloud-native portfolio of enterprise-grade application services.

“F5’s advanced application delivery and security capabilities will now be delivered as modern, DevOps-centric SaaS solutions aligned with AWS best practices,” said Venu Aravamudan, SVP and General Manager of F5 Cloud Services. “We are enabling application development and DevOps teams to go as fast they need to, while providing NetOps, SecOps, and Security teams the insights and tools they need to ensure the right governance, balancing the needs of innovation and control.”

Now available in the F5 Cloud Services portfolio is F5’s secondary authoritative DNS service as well as a preview release of a DNS Load Balancer Cloud Service. These will be followed with a primary authoritative DNS service and a suite of cloud-native application security services.

Altogether optimized

Additionally, the low-touch configurations of F5 Cloud Services can be fully automated via comprehensive declarative APIs. They enable developers and DevOps engineers to integrate application services with continuous integration/ continuous delivery practices for optimized performance throughout the lifecycle of applications.

With silos breaking down, cross-functional teams are automating and orchestrating development and deployment pipelines to keep up with the rapid rate of change required for applications. To this end, F5’s declarative automation and orchestration services – along with ecosystem integrations in containers and PaaS – tightly integrate AppDev and network processes with third-party ecosystems fulfilling configuration management, orchestration services and cloud vendor services.

In particular, containers and microservices simplify developers’ dev and test for maximum efficiency and portability. For instance, the F5 dynamic application services for container environments deliver frictionless app scale with Ingress control and app security.

“Application services should be low-friction, easy to obtain, and efficient to manage across increasingly complex and sprawling application portfolios,” reckoned Kara Sprague, senior vice president and general manager of F5’s Application Delivery Controller business unit. “Application capital is already the primary driver of differentiation and value creation for modern enterprises. The effective management of this application capital is what will propel the next Amazon, Google, Microsoft, or Netflix.”

This is a QuestexAsia blog post commissioned by F5 Networks Asia Pacific.