F5’s motto is From Code to Customer. In this post, we’ll look at how F5’s product portfolio implements that vision with its products.
|This is post 1 of 4, in the Amazic World series sponsored by F5.
1. F5: from Code to Customer
2. Containers and CI/CD
4. Security & Data Centers
Simply put, F5 is a company that cares about your application services: the ‘things’ between your application code and your users. By delivering these services, F5 helps to deliver your applications to your users while securing them, too.
F5’s portfolio, traditionally, was focused on Application Delivery, by ways of the BIG-IP load balancer, but has since expanded from merely the delivery aspects into security, performance and availability of both traditional web applications, as well as more modern, cloud-native applications.
F5’s products are cloud-agnostic and specifically designed to work in multi-cloud environments. As customers are embracing multi-cloud application architectures, migrating application services between clouds based on changing requirements, cost or (new) cloud functionality.
While the benefits of shifting security left towards developers and away from network and security profesionals are real, significant security threats, compliance requirements, and operational concerns remain. This webinar by F5 explores how teams are experiencing these changes.
This portfolio includes products for load balancing, web application firewalling, protection against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), anti-fraud and anti-bot, as well as the NGNIX web server powering a substantial part of the internet (including more advanced NGNIX functionality to serve as a reverse proxy, ingress controller, API gateway and more), combined with the, for F5, more traditional use cases in load balancing and more.
Different delivery models
Many of F5’s products are available as a product (Open Source, Perpetual, and subscription-based Licenses), as well as a managed service: Silverline is their cloud-based managed security service which includes many of F5’s security services for Web Application firewalling, DDoS and anti-bot services. Silverline is based on a mix of F5’s products and technologies, including BIG-IP, Shape and NGNIX.
In addition, some products are available in either an installable version or as a SaaS version, giving customers the freedom to use F5’s technology without the downsides of having to install, configure the products and do day-to-day lifecycle operations for those products.
These F5 Cloud Services are easy to get started with and remove the toil of implementing best-practices, upgrading, scaling, securing and troubleshooting, making network operators available for more value-add work.
And within the BIG-IP product set, F5 has added many deployment models to best fit the customer’s requirements, from hardware appliances with perpetual licensing to software (virtual) appliances with perpetual, 1 or 3-year subscription and pay-as-go-you licenses, .
Security vs. Delivery
A recurring theme in F5’s strategy is balancing the two opposites of speed of delivery on the one hand, helping customers be more agile in their business operations while delivering value faster and security on the other hand.
This balancing act is the key driver for F5’s recent acquisitions, like Shape Security, NGINX and the internal incubated Aspen Mesh product. These acquisitions, newly developed products and cross-pollination positions F5 as a cross-platform, multi-cloud application services company.
This portfolio of products helps customers maintain control over their cloud journey, and specifically helps customers their multi-cloud efforts from the unconscious to the conscious, gaining visibility into their applications.
From Physical, to Virtual, to Containers, to Cloud-native
And it’s this product portfolio, as well as the cross-pollination of features and functionality between the different products that position F5 to be a true cloud-agnostic application services company that supports both traditional, as well as modern applications across the on-prem datacenter and the public cloud.
In concrete terms, this means, for instance, that F5’s BIG-IP load balancers can natively work with containers, which helps protect previous capital investments in BIG-IP, while still catering to customer’s changing requirements to support native container environment management and orchestration systems such as Kubernetes, RedHat OpenShift, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, and Mesos. The BIG-IP Container Ingress Services (CIS) helps teams re-use BIG-IP for containers and make BIG-IP suitable for more granular and more dynamic container behavior.
Another example is the integration of F5’s Web Application Firewall into NGINX, enabling higher levels of security while not slowing down release velocity. This NGINX App Protect product implements non-disruptive security controls owned by the security team across distributed environments, allowing complex compliance and policy requirements to maintain control, without impacting the customer experience.
For cloud-native environments, the combination of the Aspen Mesh service mesh and NGINX means maximum composability for container-based microservices whose behavior is hard to predict, requiring maximum operational control to guarantee security compliance, performance and data integrity.
Single-pane-of-glass manageability and visibility
As a result of the shift customers are undergoing from traditional apps to modern application architectures, keeping track of security compliance, application traffic and application delivery configurations, visibility is a challenge.
F5 offers various control planes for central management, automation, and orchestration: BIG-IQ for BIG-IP deployments, NGINX Controller for NGINX deployments, the F5 Cloud Portal for F5 Cloud Services and the Shape Protection Manager for Shape deployments.
F5: from Code to Customer
Summarizing, F5 is on a journey to deconstruct their portfolio of products into its core features and functionalities and offering these in ways that make sense for customers, regardless of the deployment model, on-prem, any of the public clouds, as a Service or as a managed service.
With customers making the move to container and container orchestration systems, (multiple) public clouds, and even cloud-native services, F5 is positioned to keep offering the best of BIG-IP load balancing, the agility, performance of NGINX, and the visibility and control of Aspen Mesh without lock-in to any public cloud ecosystem.