IDC Frontier Uses F5 to Migrate Customers to the Cloud or Hosted Datacenters

IDC Frontier provides various services including cloud, housing, and data analysis. By combining multiple, scalable units, virtualized to support multi-tenancy, IDC Frontier can offer the services faster and on a monthly subscription basis. Introducing BIG-IP made it easy for IDC Frontier to accommodate and migrate customers’ systems—growing their customer base and increasing the number of hosted systems.

Business Challenges

For datacenter operators that provide cloud, hosting, or housing services, migrating customers from on premise systems to datacenters is a crucial business challenge. To meet this need, IDC Frontier added virtualized network functions (called the IDC Frontier Network Services) to its service menu.

“Even though customers wanted to migrate their servers from on-premise to the cloud environment in our datacenters, it was often difficult to do so because of the high cost if the same network appliances as the ones the customers use in their own facilities was to be deployed,” reflects Takashi Miura, Solution Architect of the Platform Engineering Department, Customer Service Business Unit at IDC Frontier.

In April 2013, the IDC Frontier began working on IDC Frontier Network Services. After determining the latest customer demands and operational considerations, they compared network appliances from multiple vendors. Requirements included support for multi-tenancy and SSL acceleration, ability to use script language, load balancing and web application firewall functionality, support for IPv6, and a disclosed API.

A loading test using actual units was conducted in August 2013, with BIG-IP named the overall winner.


In addition to satisfying the required features, three additional considerations caused IDC Frontier to choose BIG-IP:

First, BIG-IP has a full-scale, high-performance web application firewall. Takayuki adds that the importance of having web application firewall functionality will be important in the future. With the web application firewall feature of BIG-IP, IDC Frontier is equipped to provide functions with high availability to more customers.

Second was the large number of existing users, especially those using the script language. “Having more users means we are given more information from the actual usage cases. It is extremely important which language to choose in the beginning because migration to a different language would be an enormous chore,” Mukawa says.

Finally, they valued the scalability of BIG-IP with ScaleN. The combination of multiple BIG-IP instances into a virtual single device provides a meaningful cost benefit to the operation.

IDC Frontier officially selected BIG-IP in March 2014 and deployed it in their major datacenters that July. They began offering various network functions under their new “IDC Frontier Network Services” brand. These services are now provided from three main datacenters covering the entire market. Multi-tenancy is supported by virtually dividing these BIG-IP instances by root domains.


Speed of service at reasonable cost

IDC Frontier offers its services by scaling BIG-IP with ScaleN and adapting to multi-tenancy, allowing for a lower price point when compared to housing an appliance for each tenant. This savings benefit greatly mitigated the cost for companies migrating from on premise settings.

In addition, the time from agreement to implementation is considerably shorter. “It commonly requires one to two months to procure and install an appliance, but with BIG-IP we can now offer whichever function requested normally in five business days (or as short as one to two business days),” says Miura.

Accommodating higher traffic demand

BIG-IP also made it easier for IDC Frontier to house customers with high traffic demands. “With the appliance management services we previously offered, we had to replace the hardware with more upscale units each time we wanted to respond to a sudden increase of traffic,” recalls Mr. Mukawa. This made it particularly difficult to select appliances for systems with hard-to-predict traffic patterns. “Now we can respond to the increase in traffic by just modifying the service menu without ever reconfiguring the underlining infrastructure.”

Support for new functions

IDC Frontier has plans to build self-service portals, further accelerating the speed for service delivery. A portal for changing configuration settings is already being developed using iControl and other tools, and will be integrated with the entire cloud service offering.

The array of offered functions will expand as the customer demand grows. “Another benefit of BIG-IP is that it already supports Server Name Indication (SNI), SPDY, and HTTP/2, among others. With BIG-IP, we can quickly offer new functions requested from customers,” explains Miura.

IDC Frontier Inc. logo
  • High cost of network appliances
  • Lack of on-demand functionality
  • Need for full-scale web application firewall

  • Enables services on-demand
  • Scales for high-traffic customers
  • Accommodates new customer demands