The Advantages and Necessity of Open Source

F5 Miniature
Published August 11, 2020

As more enterprises move to business models that rely on delivering customer value through applications, flexibility and speed are increasingly (and equally) important. Agile processes enable rapid releases to deliver customer value quickly and seamlessly; and new technologies make it viable to deliver daily releases, particularly for customers operating on a massive, global scale. Open source provides a model that offers the flexibility, agility, and stability companies need to efficiently deliver applications to their end-users—without the restrictions of vendor lock-in.

As open source technologies become more prevalent, there’s a flywheel effect leading to increased confidence in using open source at scale. Increased usage of open APIs drives adoption and leads to organizations relying on open source technologies for key technologies in their stack.

In the 2020 State of Enterprise Open Source report a survey of 950 IT leaders indicated that open source is a critical consideration in the enterprise:

  • 95% of respondents indicated that open source is important to the business.
  • 75% of respondents indicated that open source is “very” or “extremely” important to the business.
  • 77% of respondents indicated that they expect enterprise open source usage to increase in the next 12 months.

As the importance of open source in the enterprise grows, so does the importance of supported open source software that provides the flexibility while alleviating maintenance and stability concerns.

At F5, we understand that organizations depend on apps to drive the business forward. In the digital age, applications are the most valuable asset for many organizations. Solutions from F5, NGINX, and Aspen Mesh enable customers to power and protect apps from code to customer, while maintaining the flexibility and agility provided by open source offerings. The wide range of products offered by F5 builds on open source foundations to help organizations choose the best technology offerings based on their needs. To better illustrate F5’s approach, the sections below provide representative examples in specific areas of our business.

Aspen Mesh

Organizations need visibility, control, and security as they adopt containers and Kubernetes to more efficiently scale distributed applications. As customers meet their end-users’ expectations for more quickly delivered applications and features, the scalability and agility of microservices are helping them to drive differentiation beyond their competitors. Aspen Mesh provides the hardening, support, and integration enterprises need to confidently adopt Istio to operate high-scale microservices applications more efficiently and securely.

As a distribution of Istio, Aspen Mesh is highly involved in the Istio open source communities. Istio has become the de facto service mesh of choice in the enterprise, with a flourishing community and ecosystem. The Aspen Mesh team has been part of the community for three years, contributing code, technical leadership, and business support to help move the project forward.

Recently, Neeraj Poddar, Aspen Mesh’s Co-Founder and Chief Architect, was named to the Istio Technical Oversight Committee, the apex of technical leadership for the Istio project. You can read more about his appointment and our commitment to Istio here.

We look forward to continuing to work with the open source community and our customers to drive increasingly valuable use cases for service mesh in helping enterprises deliver better experiences for their customers.


NGINX’s commitment to Open Source has been a fundamental part of the company from its very genesis: the release of the organization’s first load balancer and web server in 2004 was built as an open source project. Since then, NGINX has continued to prioritize a robust, stable open source solution, even after adding a commercialized version. Today 37% of all websites run on NGINX Open Source and we take that responsibility seriously, ensuring that every release contains fixes alongside new features, and is just as stable as previous ones.

Open Source is attractive to many different roles, thanks to the visibility and accessibility it provides. NGINX OSS has been built by a team of expert developers for 18 years, with contributions from an extended community. It’s known for its performance (3x our nearest competitor), ease of use, stability, and reliability. A developer can download it from any cloud, operating system, or container, and at just 3Mb of disk space and 40 Mb of RAM, it’s extremely lightweight. It’s available everywhere, from Github to Homebrew and Docker Hub, and deployable in less than an hour. And along with our wonderful community of users, there’s training and advice available everywhere.

This open source legacy holds true today: as we develop new products we continue to invest in the open source space with offerings like our Kubernetes Ingress Controller and Service Mesh, in addition to commercial offerings in security like NGINX Application Protect (Web Application Firewall) or control planes like NGINX Controller.

The native OSS Ingress Controller for Kubernetes and Service Mesh technologies are developed with the same level of thoroughness and detail that our commercial products are, translating into more reliability and stability. The differentiator is when you need added scale and security for production.

Aspen Mesh and NGINX are just the beginning of an expanding commitment to open source at F5. We realize that flexibility and breadth of choice are as important to many of our customers as security and reliability. F5 integrates into the major public cloud providers—AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform—as well as private cloud and open source platforms such as VMware, Red Hat, OpenStack, and OpenShift. F5 also integrates into our customers’ automation toolkits for applying their application services into Ansible, Chef. or Puppet to help them provide a declarative interface in the DevOps methodology. This all goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to open source—ensuring that our customers are able to run their applications where they want, how they want.