The Cloud-Ready ADC: What’s in it for NetOps?

Lori MacVittie Thumbnail
Lori MacVittie
Published December 12, 2016

A cloud-ready application delivery controller (ADC) is not your traditional ADC. Available for deployment on custom or COTS hardware, it’s a scalable software-solution supporting both the need for fast, secure, and available delivery and deployment of applications. A cloud-ready ADC enables a modern, two-tiered approach to data center architectures combining traditional stability, security, and scale with modern flexible, cloud, and DevOps-friendly programmatic features.

What’s In It for NetOps?

Network operations, or NetOps for short, is increasingly faced with addressing increased operational complexity with stagnant budgets. While there is a power shift occurring that is moving some infrastructure services, like load balancing, to the realm of traditional ops, the increased adoption of public cloud and growing demand for private cloud continues to put pressure on NetOps to move faster and deploy more frequently. While staying under budget.  

Automation and orchestration, through the adoption of platforms such as OpenStack, Cisco ACI, and VMware are one of the ways NetOps are meeting this challenge. By adopting frameworks that promote “infrastructure as code” by enabling template-based deployments, NetOps can provide a more “self-service” environment through which traditional network and application services can be deployed. That leads to lower operating costs, because engineers are no longer required to manually provision, configure, and deploy services, as well as greater speed. It enables NetOps to scale efficiently to meet demand, and reduces the friction that has long existed that causes app deployment delays.

A cloud-ready ADC achieves this through programmability. Call it “software-defined infrastructure” or “infrastructure as code”. Whatever the nomenclature you adopt, the reality is that “software” is the future of the data center not because of its form factor (it still needs hardware, after all) but because of the flexibility offered by the ability to leverage code to implement logic, whether its for routing or security, scale or speed.

That’s why a cloud-ready ADC supports template-based configuration and API-enabled deployments via the frameworks enterprises use today to realize greater operational scale and the implementation of private cloud, like OpenStack. Open sourced Heat templates easily obtained via GitHub provide end to end native, automated deployment and configuration of F5 advanced app services using iApps. But it’s not limited to pre-packaged (out-of-the-box) integration. The innate programmable nature of a cloud-ready ADC ensures it can be integrated into a wide variety of automation and orchestration systems, whether custom built or not. This is the benefit of the other API economy, the one that enables infrastructure integration to realize faster, more frequent, and consistent application deployments into the production environment.

Customization of policies through data-path programmability extends both NetOps (and DevOps, too) ability to customize application delivery as well as redress vulnerabilities through virtual patching and scrubbing of inbound/outbound data. Because security should be included in every aspect of delivery, from the app to the infrastructure to the client itself. By supporting both traditional languages (like TCL) as well as more modern ones (node.js), NetOps and DevOps alike can take advantage of over 250,000 existing packages, greater control and enhanced security is only an npm command away*.

A Platform for Every Environment

A cloud-ready ADC is also a platform. That’s increasingly important when attempting to improve the operational scale of a rapidly growing data center. A common platform for security, scale, and performance means less time with integration and management, and more time ensuring common policies and standards are readily available for those who need to deploy them. That’s particularly important when trying to stretch limited resources to the public cloud, where differences in APIs, consoles, dashboards, and even logging can increase the burden on already overwhelmed operational staff. Standardizing on a common platform across all environments – whether on-premise or off, cloud or traditional – provides a solid foundation on which to build out and expand the self-service environment needed to scale in an application economy.

A cloud-ready ADC is about enabling cloud, both in the data center as well as in the public cloud. It’s a programmable platform that provides the right combination of APIs and templates to ensure that it doesn’t matter whether it’s deployed on custom or off-the-shelf hardware, in a public cloud, a private cloud, or colo cloud. NetOps can provision, configure, manage, and monitor services deployed with a cloud-ready ADC no matter where they wind up, and do so using modern methods of automation and orchestration to ensure the operational scale that’s required to achieve the speed of deployment business expects.


*Some assembly required. No, not the language. You have to attach it to a policy.