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The Importance of ADCs for IoT in Public Cloud Environments

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For many operations, public cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, and Google offer increased scalability and flexibility, along with a reduction in infrastructure and operational costs. As a result, almost all companies house part of their application portfolio in the public cloud (reference: 2018 SOAD). Now, as the Internet of Things (IoT) begins to really take off, more and more of those public cloud providers are also offering dedicated platform support for IoT and Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications.

Ultimately, your IoT/IIoT apps are not so different from other enterprise apps. And apps of all types—whether located in the public cloud, private cloud, or an on-premises data center—require specific services to ensure their security, availability, and performance. For this reason, enterprise and industrial users alike have long turned to application delivery controllers (ADCs) to deliver much needed load balancing, traffic steering, firewall capabilities, and other services in their data centers and, more recently, in the cloud.

Familiar Challenges

Infinite scalability, unmatched flexibility, and reduced overhead all make the public cloud seem like an ideal IoT platform. However, many who make the shift to cloud do so with concerns that their applications’ security and performance may be diminished, or that they’ll fall victim to vendor lock-in and risk large re-architecting costs. These are common fears: one study found that 78 percent of IT decision-makers worry about the portability of their workloads in the cloud.

A Well-Known, Trusted Solution

Despite its challenges, migrating to the cloud means you can provision, deploy, and scale your IoT application environments faster and more efficiently than ever. And thanks to virtualized, software-based ADCs, such as the industry-leading F5 BIG-IP virtual edition (VE), your important application delivery services—access management, load balancing, optimization, and more—can now be deployed alongside your IoT apps.

F5 works closely with all the major cloud providers to make BIG-IP VEs available in as many public cloud environments as we can. Because VEs are built on the same base code as BIG-IP hardware, they offer complete feature parity with their physical counterparts. This enables you to take advantage of the scalability and flexibility of the public cloud without jeopardizing performance and security of your IoT applications.

Enterprise-Class Security for IoT Applications

Public cloud security can be divided into two categories: security of the cloud and security in the cloud. The first refers to security of the infrastructure—including compute resources, databases, and networking—which are the sole responsibility of the cloud provider. But the latter—security in the cloud—refers to security of the applications and their supporting data. And this, ultimately, is the responsibility of the application owner.

Running BIG-IP VEs in your IoT cloud environment is the easiest and most effective way to ensure your applications and network are continuously protected. F5’s advanced L4–7 security services include (at the network level) advanced firewall protection to defend against large volumetric-based DDoS attacks. At the application level, security tools mitigate against common application vulnerabilities and L7 DDoS attacks, while also providing protection against all OWASP Top 10 threats. And if you already have BIG-IP security modules elsewhere within your multi-cloud infrastructure, it’s easy to replicate the custom security policies you currently employ, thereby ensuring consistent security across your architecture.

Improve Performance and Availability with Global Traffic Management

Complex IoT/IIoT environments rely on the ability to direct data traffic from sensors, actuators, or gateways to different locations depending on ever-changing business needs. For example, some traffic might be sent to Azure IoT for the immediate monitoring and controlling of devices, while other data goes directly to your private on-premises cloud for detailed analytics over time. With powerful DNS tools and global server load balancing capabilities in your VE toolset, you can do all this, as well as make informed routing decisions based on either a server’s physical proximity or its real-time performance and health.

Improve Efficiency, Agility with Advanced Programmability

F5 enables you to control your IoT/IIoT environment with an open, web-based API that provides complete dynamic control of F5 configuration objects. You have the power and flexibility to ensure that applications and their underpinning network—whether in the public cloud or in your data center—efficiently work together to simplify management of complex architectures. In addition, you can use F5's scripting language to provide complete programmatic access to traffic flowing between multi-cloud applications. The flexibility to quickly adjust traffic management characteristics is a real differentiator in the fast, ever-changing field of IoT.

Conclusion

Moving your IoT/IIoT apps to the cloud can boost business agility, save money, and increase scalability. And for IoT/IIoT deployments, the process of migrating to (or developing in) the public cloud is greatly simplified and accelerated with F5’s application delivery services.

F5 offers a single application services tier that can be used across multi-cloud architectures, which eliminates your need for multiple disparate solutions and the resulting IT strain they cause. With F5 BIG-IP VEs, IoT-focused organizations can seamlessly and confidently deploy in public or multi-cloud environments now and enable maximum flexibility (minus vendor lock-in) in the years to come.

To learn more about how F5 can help with your IoT deployments, drop us a line at: IoT@f5.com

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