MWC22: New BIG-IP Cloud-Native Network Functions for Service Providers

James Feger 축소판
James Feger
Published February 27, 2022

F5's Pathway to Strengthen, Secure, and Simplify Your Clouds

Based on decades of expertise in high-volume traffic management and security, F5 has been investing and building a rigorous portfolio to better support applications in the cloud. Earlier this month, we announced the F5 Distributed Cloud Platform. Based on technology from F5, Volterra, and Shape, it's a powerful and versatile multi-cloud networking solution providing services that can be deployed across distributed clusters to provide end-to-end visibility, policy control, and centralized management of distributed applications. Utilizing API-based communication to connect workloads and data, one of the first offerings on this solution platform is Web Application & API Protection (WAAP) for public and private clouds, data centers, and edge sites, offering F5 capabilities with global PoPs for easier deployment, management, and protection of application workloads.

New F5 Cloud-Native Network Functions for Modern Telco Workloads

We're also announcing additional exciting solutions that will be production-ready this year: BIG-IP Cloud-Native Network Functions (CNFs). F5 is committed to supporting a cloud-native approach toward building and deploying new applications that are critical to the fundamental changes needed to modernize networking and security infrastructures, and also reduce total cost of ownership. In response to customer requests, our team is building BIG-IP CNFs to improve agility and simplify network operations by relying on a zero-copy memory architecture for more efficient deployment at scale. The first of the new F5 CNFs will be focused on security to strengthen and optimize these especially demanding environments, which require flexible resource allocation to be scalable, automated, resilient, and more manageable. We are reducing the software footprint and enabling horizontal scaling that can be natively controlled by Kubernetes, as well as making that horizontal scaling more robust. For more details, see our F5 CNF overview. We envision F5's new CNFs to be deployed in both 4G and 5G use cases to support service provider offerings. Additionally, F5 recently produced a webinar with Light Reading, The Time is Now for Cloud-Native, Whether for 4G, 5G or Both, if you'd like an overview of our CNF strategy.

These true cloud-native functions are refactored or rearchitected versions of popular, trusted F5 security functions, but now with the added cloud-native benefits of dynamic elasticity and scale, continuous deployment and automation principles, and a smaller footprint. Plans are for these CNFs to be generally available in 2022:

  • BIG-IP Edge Firewall CNF (based on F5's AFM, including DDoS functionality)
  • BIG-IP Policy Enforcer CNF

Key to delivering the dynamic elasticity and efficiency for these CNFs is that they'll be running on the F5 Cloud-Native Engine, which is a visibility, support, and licensing control infrastructure that works with Kubernetes platforms, initially on Red Hat OpenShift and, with plans to be agnostic for all platforms. This engine will also support other CNF vendors, but conversion and consolidation of F5 functions will further optimize overall performance, management, and analytics. This operational simplicity in the cloud parallels our critical network service consolidating VNFs/CNFs on S/Gi-LAN/N6, which we're currently delivering for more than 60 global telco customers to empower their transition to modern architectures.

Use cases for our new F5 CNFs include supporting telco network functions, IT workloads, and managed services: cloud-native CaaS/PaaS, vRAN, 5G Core, S/Gi-LAN/N6 consolidation, and security at the edge.

VELOS Platform to Scale Multi-Tenant Density in the Cloud

Lastly, while digital transformation places emphasis on virtualization (such as VNFs and CNFs), hardware can make the difference in a service provider’s ability to offer and deliver differentiated, high-performance, and volume multi-tenant services. VELOS is our next-generation chassis system for Layers 4-7, and can bridge traditional and modern application architectures by supporting a mix of traditional BIG-IP tenants now, as well as for next-generation BIG-IP tenants in the future, to unleash the true potential of running on a microservices-based architecture. Read a major telco customer story using on VELOS to provide virtual reality (VR) at sporting events, interactive retail displays, and ubiquitous data sensors for IoT. It's important to recognize that innovative software and hardware both played a role in this service provider’s high-performance solution. With its ability to perform in both the data center/core and the edge and far edge, VELOS can play a key role in hardware-driven improvements to service delivery. 

Simplify Your Clouds Today

To strengthen, secure, and simplify your clouds, F5 Distributed Cloud Services, S/Gi-LAN/N6 consolidation, and VELOS appliances are available now. BIG-IP CNFs will be production-ready in 2022.

James Feger is VP and General Manager, Service Provider, F5