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HP, F5 Speed Up App Delivery Time with Networks

HP, F5 Speed Up App Delivery Time with Networks
By Barry Levine

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Hewlett-Packard and F5's Virtual Application Networks solution enables clients to "virtualize and automate the entire configuration process," going from app through the network to the user in "minutes, not weeks or months," said HP's Bethany Mayer. "IT needs to move at the same rate as a business needs."

Hewlett-Packard is promoting its technology enabling companies to deliver policy-configured applications within minutes over wired and wireless networks, without time-consuming manual configuration.

The solution is being offered in collaboration with F5 Networks, which specializes in Application Delivery Networking or ADN, and the companies are highlighting the offering at the Interop Las Vegas 2012 networking industry conference.

Called HP Virtual Application Networks and described as an industry first, the solution was initially unveiled in April. It combines features of app and network orchestration via software-defined networking, and is handled through the HP Intelligent Management Center, into which F5's BIG-IP application delivery control manager has been integrated.

Helping to Simplify BYOD

Legacy networks typically require a variety of manual steps to deliver new apps and other services based on policy requirements for individual users. The HP-F5 solution automates policy-based management, which, the companies said, can dramatically speed up application deployment time and lower the possibility of errors from manual deployment.

Manual deployment is time-intensive because, in a typical data center, the configuration must be done by an IT employee on a device-by-device or device class basis, involving several network infrastructure layers. From the application point-of-view, there can be weeks of configuration, including user connection profiles on both company-owned and worker-owned devices.

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is increasingly becoming a headache for IT departments everywhere, as more and more employees seek to use their personal devices for work.

HP said that, because of this trend, as many as 60 percent of enterprises are unsure of the reliability of devices connected to their networks. Virtual Application Networks simplify the problem by combining user/ device authentication and app access control, and by unifying the management of on-boarding, provisioning, and monitoring of personal devices with application access control.

'Necessary Agility'

According to HP, typically a data center network needs more than 250,000 manual command line entries for the network implementation component, and over 100,000 app configuration steps. But, in the context of clouds and similar kinds of dynamic environments, this kind of configuration is outmoded, the companies said.

The Virtual Application Networks use software-defined technologies, such as OpenFlow, and templates can be created for application delivery requirements. The solution has been optimized for Microsoft Lync, Sharepoint, and Exchange Server apps.

Bethany Mayer, HP Networking senior vice president and general manager, said in a statement that IT needs to move at the same rate as a business needs, since the need for an app could be short-lived, "but legacy application, network and user configuration practices are barriers to achieving this necessary agility."

Mayer added that HP and F5's solution enables clients to "virtualize and automate the entire configuration process," going from app through the network to the user in "minutes, not weeks or months."

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