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AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

Posts Tagged ‘F5’

The creation and fostering of vendor-sponsored communities has been an incredibly hot trend over the past couple of years. There’s no greater example of the bilateral value a community can provide to the vendor and the customer base than what F5 has created with its DevCentral community. Over the past year or so we’ve seen Riverbed, Aruba, Infoblox and others unveil their versions of a community, and this week Acme Packet joined the growing list of technology vendors that are trying to capitalize on the power of a community.

The concept of the Acme community is not dissimilar to other ones that have been created recently, as it’s meant to enable better collaboration between Acme’s partners, customers and employees. If executed correctly, the Acme site could become the de facto information source for anyone interested in markets related to Acme products, which is quite diverse. Topic areas include SIP Trunking, operational issues, IMS, VoLTE, unified communications, and interoperability. The best source right now for market-level information is nojitter.com, but there isn’t really a site that addresses practical implementation issues and problems developers and administrators will face. It’s similar to the role Network World plays, providing market-level information, and then F5’s DevCentral delves a level deeper into support and operational issues.

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Well 2011 is winding down now and this past year was certainly a big year of change in the network industry.  The industry saw the introduction of “fabrics” into data centers with several traditional network vendors ship product this year.  In addition, hot start up Arista flexed its muscles and started making traction, particularly in the financial services vertical.  But alas, 2011 is coming to an end and its time for some predictions. So, for 2012 here is what I expect to see in the network industry. 

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Without sounding sarcastic, the primary benefit of a virtual application delivery controller (ADC) is that, well, it’s virtual. It requires no hardware to deploy making it low cost. It’s mobile so the ADC can be moved from one location to another in real time and it can be self provisioned by anyone, including an application developer. But virtual ADCs have their drawbacks, too.

Historically, ADCs have been physical appliances located between the network and application tiers in a data center or deployed at the edge of a network to help optimize service delivery. The primary role of ADCs has been for load balancing purposes but a number of advanced features such as encryption, security, video optimization and some application specific features have been added over the past half decade. This shift in functionality has added to the need for ADCs across different verticals and company sizes.

This increased demand is why there have been so many more versions of the ADC launched recently, including virtual editions. This begs the question, though, can virtual ADCs replace physical ones in production environments? There’s no doubt that virtual ADCs can be used as a developer tool but the big question is around production environments which leads us to the question of “to virtualize or not to virtualize?”

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One of the most important changes in scaling corporate data center has been the evolution of the application delivery controller (ADC).  The ADC bridges the network and application environments together.  By having the ADC at this strategic control point, organizations are able to scale their data center infrastructure without disrupting the service to the user.

As we move more and applications and infrastructure to the cloud, the ADC will play a similar role in scaling the cloud.  As more traffic moves to and from the cloud, the ADC will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that this can happen without degradation of performance.  That much is well understood.  What’s not well understood is what the form factor of the ADC should be.

Many of the data center appliance vendors have shifted their strategy to build virtual versions.  The thought being that if the server and storage infrastructure is virtual, and then so should be all of the appliances that sit around it.  This would include ADCs, WAN optimizers, security devices and other functions that surround the server infrastructure.

However, before the industry proclaims, “All hail the virtual appliance”, it’s important to understand there are some limitations to the model of the virtual appliance.  With the ADC playing such a key role, it’s critical that cloud providers understand where these limitations are.

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