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F5 Bridges SDN Gap with App-Relevant Solution
F5 Bridges SDN Gap with App-Relevant Solution

By Jennifer LeClaire
November 5, 2013 1:12PM

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People have asked about the role of the application delivery controller in SDNs. F5 Networks answered that with Synthesis, where the ADC becomes a set of virtual resources that apps can access. F5 Networks Synthesis helps bridge that gap between the app world and the network world to make SDNs more application relevant, said one analyst.
 



App delivery services vendor F5 Networks has a new story to tell -- and it taps into the software-defined trend that’s racing through the tech sector. The company just announced its F5 Synthesis architectural vision for the delivery and orchestration of software-defined application services, or SDAS, throughout the data center, cloud and hybrid environments.

F5 Synthesis is powered by an elastic, multi-tenant and high-performance services fabric. SDAS complement existing layer 2-3 network and compute-focused efforts, the firm said, by filling the gap in support for critical layer 4 through layer 7 services. The company said its latest innovation makes it possible for enterprises to rapidly and cost-effectively provision layer 4-7 services to anyone at any time without constraints.

“F5 is highly aware of the shifts transforming the application delivery controller (ADC) market, based on ongoing dialogue with customers, partners, and industry influencers,” said Manny Rivelo, executive vice president of Strategic Solutions at F5. “With Synthesis, we are better aligning around the priorities and deployment preferences of enterprises and service providers to best address the direction IT is headed -- billions of users, trillions of Internet-connected devices, and millions of essential applications.”

Addressing Layer 4-7 Services

Business stakeholders today are highly sensitive to the time it takes to deliver new services and applications to the market. Trends and technologies such as agile, DevOps, cloud, and SDN have made great strides toward meeting service velocity requirements across development, operations, and networking teams but, as F5 sees it, have not adequately addressed key layer 4-7 services.

With F5 Synthesis, the company hopes to fill that gap with an open and extensible framework that allows a growing ecosystem of technology partners to collaborate on integrated provisioning and orchestration systems to address velocity requirements across compute, network, and application services.

F5 is clearly on to something. According to Gartner Inc.'s, “Focus on Five Dimensions of Network Design to Improve Performance and Save Money,” “Changing application environments, user expectations and network services demand that network architects expand their thinking to ensure that the network supports new and changing business requirements. They need to address five dimensions -- users, applications, devices, location and activity in a framework that best supports enterprise applications, both internally and externally hosted.”

Making SDNs More App-Relevant

We turned to Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his thoughts on F5 Synthesis. He told us the SDN’s ability to make applications run better is one of the technology’s big value propositions -- but most of the SDN solutions on the market work at the network layer and have no direct relevancy in the application.

“If you have a poorly performing network obviously that makes your apps perform worse. But ultimately there’s no app-specific tie ins with SDNs and that’s always been the case. Networks and apps have been separated. The thing that bridges the world of apps and networks is the application delivery controller,” Kerravala said.

“I’ve had many people ask me what is the role of the application delivery controller in SDNs. F5 answered that with its Synthesis release, where the ADC becomes a set of virtual resources that apps can access to help bridge that gap between the app world and the network world to make SDNs more application relevant,” he added.
 

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