At F5, Ridiculously Easy App Security and Delivery Is Our Guiding Light

Kara Sprague Miniatura
Kara Sprague
Published February 07, 2024

This week at AppWorld, our premier customer event, we’re reintroducing F5. Just seven years ago, F5 was a data center load-balancing specialist, and close to 90% of our product revenues came from perpetual hardware sales into on-prem environments.

At that time, there was a widely held belief across the industry that all apps would inevitably either be hosted in the cloud or consumed as SaaS. There were predictions of the death of everything on-premises. Hybrid IT was expected to be a transitory state—apps would live in different places just long enough to move them all to the cloud.

As the long-time leader in layer 4 through 7 app delivery and security, F5 subscribed to a different belief system from most of the rest of industry and the world. We believed the future would be hybrid and multicloud.

Yes, our customers were moving their apps to the cloud. In many cases, for simple app migrations, they were taking us with them. In some cases, they were investing in refactoring and modernizing their apps to use public cloud native services. However, in almost all cases, they were not moving their apps to a single cloud; they were adopting many clouds. And the work to vacate their data centers was taking much longer and much more investment than planned.

We understood that a future of multiple app environments and the rise of APIs as the gateway to our apps would mean big changes to how we secure and deliver apps. We invested in organic innovation, needle-moving acquisitions, and a complete reimagining of how we serve our customers’ needs in what we expect will be a lasting hybrid and multicloud world.

It’s clear today that distributed architectures are the new standard—whether businesses have planned for it or not. Both traditional and modern apps now live in many environments, including multiple clouds, SaaS, edge locations, and corporate data centers. From F5’s 2024 State of Application Strategy research, 88% of organizations deploy their apps and APIs across hybrid environments that span on-prem and cloud locations. Nearly two in five organizations operate apps and APIs across six different environments.

In short, hybrid and multicloud distributed environments are the new normal. No single app environment is perfect for every application, so businesses are embracing the flexibility that hybrid and multicloud infrastructures deliver. As Deloitte reported, “multicloud may feel messy, but it’s the world we’re living in and likely will be for the foreseeable future.”

However, managing these distributed apps and APIs while delivering on sky-high user expectations is proving to be a difficult task. Just as apps and APIs have become critical enablers in life and business, securing and delivering them has also become significantly more complex. With each new app environment supported, complexity increases exponentially. The average organization deploying apps across four environments now has 10x more application data paths to manage and secure than they did when their app deployments were limited to on-premises.

And the proliferation of AI will only increase the complexity and equip cyberthreat actors with more sophisticated capabilities. AI is already unleashing a flood of new AI-driven apps and an even greater number of APIs.

As the gateways for our apps and data, APIs are now the preferred targets for cyberattacks. The cost of compromise is much higher for a business because applications contain financial data, trade secrets, and confidential user information. While network and endpoint protection has long been a business priority, companies are increasingly focusing on app and API security—because protecting apps and APIs is protecting the bottom line.

From Messy to Ridiculously Easy

F5 knew that as our customers accelerated their digital transformation efforts, expanded into new infrastructure environments, and embraced microservices architectures, the resulting complexity could be crushing.

That is why we radically transformed F5 and our portfolio to serve customers in this hybrid and multicloud reality. It is our mission to make our customers’ jobs easier—to reduce the complexity of securing and delivering all apps and APIs, regardless of deployment location.

Over the past several years, we have transformed ourselves to become the only solution provider that secures, delivers, and optimizes any app, any API, anywhere. Our portfolio is designed to solve our customers’ most difficult hybrid and multicloud pain points.

Each one of our product families addresses our customers’ hybrid and multicloud needs for different parts of their application portfolio. BIG-IP provides app delivery and security for traditional apps, across on-prem and cloud. NGINX offers lightweight app delivery and security for modern apps and APIs, across on-prem, cloud, and Kubernetes environments. Distributed Cloud Services bring SaaS and managed services for app security, delivery, and connectivity, across on-prem, cloud, and edge environments.

We are passionate about helping our customers simplify their hybrid and multicloud environments. We make it easy to secure and deliver apps and APIs faster, smarter, and more cost effectively, using automation and advanced deployment techniques such as dynamic security policies and API discovery.

Helping Our Customers Thrive in the AI Era

As companies grapple with a rapidly shifting threat landscape and growing IT operations complexity, F5 is delivering on its mission to make it significantly easier to secure, deliver, and optimize any app, any API, anywhere.

Being side-by-side with our customers as they take on the latest technology challenges means we are ready now as they capitalize on the power of AI. The protection of APIs that connect data, models, and services is the critical security challenge that companies face as they deploy more AI services.

With today’s announcement and the addition of capabilities from Wib, F5 now has the most comprehensive API security solution on the market. F5 is the only company that can offer a single-vendor solution to address API code scanning and testing, API code analysis, API discovery and traffic analysis, and runtime protection and enforcement.

We are also making AI pervasive across our portfolio. With F5’s AI Data Fabric, we will be able to deliver intelligent services that allow customers to adapt and respond to threats in real time, generate insights to help them make more informed decisions, and take quick actions such as remediation. Through an aggregation of telemetry from F5 Distributed Cloud Services, BIG-IP, and NGINX, this platform will give customers AI-enabled tools and automated capabilities to simply do more.

And our forthcoming AI assistant will change the way customers interact with and manage F5 solutions using a natural language interface. Powered by the F5 AI Data Fabric and soon to be available through the F5 Distributed Cloud Console, this assistant will serve as an intelligent partner that can generate real-time data visualizations, identify anomalies, query policy configurations, and apply remediations.

As we look at where we are today, F5 is the only solution provider that can secure, deliver, and optimize any app, any API, anywhere. For customers who have apps deployed on-prem, in multiple public clouds, and at the edge, we are the only vendor with complete solutions for each of those environments.

Of course, we’re not stopping there. We’re investing in new capabilities as we work to bring about a world where apps scale and shrink autonomously as demands change, where cyberattacks and service instability are detected and neutralized before they cause harm, and where rich telemetry and machine learning are used to continuously optimize app performance, resilience, and security.

Looking ahead, we will continue our focus on simplification and bringing our deep application security and delivery expertise to bear to help customers reduce security headaches and maximize app performance everywhere their apps are deployed.

F5 is and will continue to be in lockstep with our customers’ current and future hybrid and multicloud app needs. Get to know the new F5.