iSeries: Not Just a Better, Bigger, and Faster BIG-IP

Robert Haynes Miniature
Robert Haynes
Published November 15, 2016

Today we’re launching the F5® BIG-IP® iSeries hardware platforms. Truthfully, it would be newsworthy if they were not bigger, better, faster, and more economical than their predecessors. We all expect each new generation of BIG-IP to be more capable. Many manufacturers, however, are happy just to add some more memory, faster processors and the latest network interface standard into their devices and call it “an exciting new range of hardware.” That’s not the F5 way. We’re always seeking to innovate, sometimes by adding new features and functionality to our BIG-IP TMOS software, developing interesting new workflow management products, or announcing new container integration solutions.

With the BIG-IP iSeries, F5 introduces our new TurboFlexTM FPGA technology.  FPGAs are interesting, because they offer the line-speed performance of specialized silicon – like SSL offload cards, but with a reprogrammable, upgradable capability more like a software/CPU combination. The FPGA successfully balances hardware performance with the potential for flexibility and innovation. 

What does this mean for today? Today, you get an innovative new platform that can adapt hardware capacity to match your workloads. Deployed as a security device, BIG-IP iSeries dedicates more capacity on the FPGA to DDoS mitigation; deployed in a private cloud – the FPGA switches capacity towards network overlay (such as VXLAN or GRE tunnel) processing. This gives you a hardware platform that can maximize capacity for your expected workloads. Suddenly, the hardware is software-defined.

What about tomorrow? As new challenges come, and new capabilities are required to meet them, we can code new features into our hardware, delivering both the new functions you will need and the huge scale and line speed that dedicated hardware brings. What kinds of new functionality? We can’t be sure, because if we have learnt anything over the years, it’s that predicting the future is an uncertain pastime, and architecting for flexibility and extensibility is a far better use of our time. Maybe you will need to process vast numbers of IoT connections; maybe you will need defense against a new class of Denial of Service attacks. No one can be completely sure of what you will need years from now.

One thing you can be sure of is that F5 will continue to innovate, execute, and bring new capabilities to market. And now, so will your BIG-IP hardware.