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Cloud Computing

F5: Consistency of capabilities is key to all Clouds

At its Agility conference in Barcelona this week, Application Delivery & Networking company F5 Networks laid out its vision to compete in an increasingly complex and competitive Cloud-based landscape.

Given that the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure all have their own in-house offerings that compete with F5’s core competencies such as Load Balancing and Application Security, it would be easy to write the company off long term, given the massive resources those companies can throw behind their services.

However, the Seattle-based company says it’s advantage is consistency of capabilities around application services across what it calls ‘The Multi-Cloud’; a combination of different network environments that encompass any number of Public, Private, Hybrid, or other types of deployment, all the at same time.

F5 CISO Mike Convertino warned that all Public Cloud offerings are “not even” when it comes to security, while CTO Ryan Kearny says that even if customers view certain native features from those providers as good enough, companies are potentially locking themselves into one Cloud.

“Once you start using things like local Application Load Balancing, or Elastic Load Balancing within Amazon, once you configure security or load balancing, those policies of configuration now are no longer actually portable to other public cloud infrastructures.”

Although Public Cloud providers promote the portability of workloads and data as a major plus point, Ryan says it’s not actually within their interest to enable that transportability.

“They want the workloads in their infrastructure, and then they want you to be locked in. They want to it be hard to move.”

As well as a constant set of capabilities, Ryan says part of F5’s mission is to help prevent Cloud lock-in with this regard.

“Our vision to give you the freedom to deploy any application anywhere with consistent services and security,” said Sangeeta Anand, Senior Vice President of Product Management and Product Marketing.

“According to Gartner, 85% of companies are going to have multiple locations, multiple Clouds, multi-environment deployments. The issue of consistency becomes important.”

“It is not for F5 to dictate what you need to use, so our focus is on landing on different environments where a company may land, and to make the consumption of our services really easy.”

F5 services are already available on Azure, AWS, and IBM Softlayer, and this week announced Google Cloud availability. Anand says support for Oracle and Alibaba on the future roadmap.

Also announced at Agility this week to further this goal was the Application Connector; a product designed to connect applications on Public Clouds directly to your interconnection or data centre. The company also unveiled a private cloud solution package to automate OpenStack private cloud deployments, and a Container Connector designed to apply your policies quickly within a container.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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