F5 Bids to Strengthen Data-Center Grip

Acquisitions always qualify as big news because they’re dramatic transactions. They are sudden, sometimes surprising, and they can have significant commercial, financial, industrial, and technological implications. They roil industry waters, ultimately leaving some vendors capsized and others navigating toward bold horizons.

Product announcements can be overshadowed amid periods of M&A ferment, so it’s important that we pay sufficient attention to product launches that have potentially far-reaching consequences.

Toward the Dynamic Data Center

One such announcement occurred today as F5 Networks, the leader in the application delivery controller (ADC) space, announced its BIG-IP v11 software release, scheduled to reach market in the third quarter. F5 is emphasizing two major aspects of the release: the realization of its vision of a “dynamic data center,” in which service provisioning is expedited through an application-centric view of network infrastructure and resource availability; and enhanced, dynamic security services that are intended to prevent attacks on networks, applications, and data.

Over at F5’s DevCentral, Lori MacVittie has been setting the stage for today’s announcement for a while, discussing various intractable operational and technological challenges — all of which, perhaps not surprisingly, can be addressed by the new release of BIG-IP. No wonder, then, that she was eager to provide her perspective on what today’s announcement means.

Piecing IT Together

In her view, the “game changing” pieces of the new BIG-IP are iApp, which moves the focus of BIG-IP configuration from network-oriented objects to application-centric views; ScaleN, which introduces the concept of “Device Service Clusters” and facilitates targeted fail-over of application instances, allowing customers to scale out across CPUs or devices, managing them as one pool; and Virtual Clustered Multiprocessing (vCMP), which makes ScaleN possible.

When you consider those three components together, she contends, “you now have capabilities in the application delivery infrastructure with similar benefits and abilities as those found previously only in the server / application virtualization infrastructure: automated, repeatable, manageable, scalable infrastructure services.”

Strengthening Data-Center Claims

What it means from a business standpoint for customers is increased cost savings from greater IT efficiency, improved application-centric resource utilization, and automated (thus faster and less costly) application provisioning.

From an industry and vendor perspective, what is means is that F5 bolsters its case for BIG-IP as an essential element in data-center management. If this release of BIG-IP and its underlying strategy are successful, F5 not only takes greater command of the ADC space, but also will strengthen its claims on some critical real estate in enterprise and service-provider data centers.

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