This syndicated post originally appeared at Network World Zeus Kerravala.

F5 Networks’ new solutions include security,
orchestration and public cloud integration features

Credit: geralt via Pixabay

Digital has become the way. Look through any business publication or trade magazine, and you’ll see a plethora of articles about digital transformation.

A digital business is highly dependent on the underlying infrastructure to enable new services that can give it a competitive advantage. The underlying technology not only needs to seamlessly deliver the services, but also provide the highest levels of security, orchestration capabilities and many other requirements unique to this era of business.

This week at it’s Agility EMEA event in Vienna, F5 Networks announced several new software-based solutions that enable customers to meet the challenges of evolving into a digital enterprise. The new solutions include the following:

BIG-IP version 12.1 software

BIG-IP is the flagship product for the company, and the new version extends the programmability of its application deliver controller (ADC) across traditional, cloud and hybrid environments. One of F5’s biggest differentiators is something called “iRules,” a TCL-based scripting language that lets its customers build custom features.

The newest version includes something called iRules LX, which enables customers to create new capabilities using Node.js. For those unfamiliar with Node.js, it is an open-source, cross-platform runtime environment for building web applications using modules that are written in JavaScript. The TCL-based iRules has been enormously popular and something that has created significant differentiation for F5 and its customers, but Node.js will expand the addressable market to a much broader set of developers. This capability is critical to deliver advanced functionality for cloud-based applications that require optimized throughput, scalability and traffic steering.

Also, F5 has added a new plug-in for the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which is supported by a number of mainstream IT vendors, including Google, Oracle, Red Hat and SAP. This enables F5 administrators to reuse code and rapidly apply it to any vendor that supports Eclipse.

BIG-IP 12.1 also has several new security capabilities. F5’s Application Security Manager (ASM) now includes a customizable bot-detection feature that includes detailed analysis and extensive device ID tracking. ASM also speeds up the blacklisting of malicious IP addresses in hardware, making it faster than other software-only solutions. Given how fast security propagates, this can have a big impact on containing breaches.

The BIG-IP Firewall Manager has also been enhanced and now offers capabilities that automatically mitigate against layer 3-7 attacks that occur upstream in ISP environments and control SSH channel user-initiated actions with custom policy enforcement.

Deeper integration with leading public cloud environments

F5 currently supports a number of public cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services, VMware vCloud, Verizon Terremark, Microsoft Azure and Bluelock. In this release, F5’s web application firewall (WAF) is now integrated into the Azure Security Center. F5 has also improved the reliability and scale of F5 in AWS with new features such as the ability to dynamically scale application services and support for active/standby high availability across zones.

BIG-IQ 5.0

F5’s BIG-IQ product is a centralized management solution for BIG-IP products. The suite provides network architects and administrators with visibility, reporting, licensing and management capabilities that simplify the tasks required to operate BIG-IP.

The new release includes support for the BIG-IP Access Policy Manager. With this release, F5 becomes the first vendor to bring centralized, role-based management for application delivery, security and identity management under one platform. Also, BIG-IQ 5.0 lets customers manage, update and configure ADC services for up to 200 physical and virtual devices.

iWorkflow Version 2.0

The new iWorkflow platform speeds up application deployment through the orchestration of network services with leading software-defined networking (SDN) solutions. The product uses templates to deploy policies directly using the iWorkflow GUI or by using connectors to interface with third-party solutions such as Cisco AC and VMware NSX. Another option is to connect via orchestration tools such as Ansible, Chef or Puppet with an SDK.

The digital era has come, and it’s changing the way business is done. It also needs to change the way IT is run. The new F5 software enables customers to automate more and improve their security posture. This becomes particularly important as organizations look to manage IT assets across traditional data centers, public clouds and hybrid environments.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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