Many developers have decided that a multi-cloud strategy is the key to building and deploying better apps, faster. This approach only works, though, if you have a way to centrally manage policies across cloud environments. The answer? An integrated multi-cloud management solution.
You chose a multi-cloud architecture for your applications because it makes the most sense. And you’re not alone—nine out of 10 organizations have adopted a multi-cloud architecture, prioritizing freedom and flexibility for applications over standardized environments, processes, and tools. That freedom comes at a cost, though.
As your app portfolio expands, so too do the security threats and performance risks. The more spread out your applications become across an enterprise IT landscape, the more resource-taxing and complex it is to manage consistent policies across clouds, leaving your organization open to security and performance vulnerabilities.
The key is to provide app development teams with a broad catalog of easy-to-use, consistent, and vetted security, compliance, and performance policies—built by the security and NetOps teams.
To ensure consistency across clouds, you need a solution that delivers automation, superior application performance, security optimization, and availability across multi-cloud environments. You also need to standardize the policies that govern core app services, such as traffic management and application security. This can mean intentionally choosing not to adopt the native app services available on most public clouds.
The benefits of consistent cross-cloud policies include:
With F5's broad set of advanced application services, teams can create a consistent set of security, availability, and performance policies that can be stored via code and integrated into a fully automated CI/CD pipeline or part of a semi-automated service catalog solution.
F5 protects against advanced threats, such as bots, and reduces complexity by providing consistent, actionable visibility into traffic and attack patterns. Plus, F5 app services integrate with most automated CI/CD pipeline tools, making things easier for both development and DevOps teams.
DevOps teams can define and manage policies via code using the F5 Automation Toolchain, with API interfaces to any F5 solution. Policies are defined and managed as JSON files and are invoked with a single API call.
DevOps teams can also define policies as iApp templates and expose them through a service catalog, managed by F5 BIG-IQ or another orchestration tool. This way, app teams can access pre-configured, self-service options that automate policy deployment—no NetOps or SecOps support tickets required.
In the architecture above, we explain how you can use BIG-IP and BIG-IQ to deploy consistent security and performance policies to apps in any environment. This is an ideal solution if your app team needs to deploy consistent application services across multiple clouds, but you still want the security and networking experts involved every step of the way. Templates designed by the right teams can be deployed via automation to protect and accelerate applications on-premises and in the cloud.
Most organizations prioritize cloud flexibility—and let application teams choose the best environment for each application—over the organizational benefits of common environments, processes, and tools.
As applications proliferate, how do you strike the right balance between freedom and flexibility for application development teams—while enabling the easy and consistent inheritance of corporate security, compliance, performance, and operability requirements? One word: standardization.
To standardize on core application services across cloud environments, organizations can leverage a few F5 components.
BIG-IP Virtual Editions bring the power, protection, and unparalleled flexibility of market-leading F5 application services to a range of private and public clouds.
Offering full traffic control, inspection, and telemetry, BIG-IP VE gives your virtualized applications the protection and optimization they need to deliver reliable application performance management, while defending them from an increasing set of threats and unwanted bot activity.
Learn more about BIG-IP Virtual Editions.
The BIG-IQ Centralized Management platform can manage many hundreds of virtual and physical BIG-IP platforms across multiple public and private cloud environments—as well as BIG-IPs deployed in on-premises data centers—all from a single pane of glass.
BIG-IQ also provides a service catalog of application delivery and multi-cloud security services that are maintained by experts but can be easily consumed by application teams on demand. In addition, BIG-IQ offers device, network, security, and application-level visibility and insights with personalized, role-based per-app dashboards. Finally, BIG-IQ can manage pools of recoverable, reusable licenses—allowing you to flex capacity across multiple clouds as needed.
See how it works in the deployment guide.
Learn more about BIG-IQ Centralized Management.
The reality of delivering secure and fast but quickly evolving applications in the cloud is that security, operations, and development need to collaborate and communicate efficiently to deliver consistent services across a multi-cloud environment.
The network operations team is responsible for network infrastructure. In cloud environments, simple services like load balancing might be the domain of application owners; however, the networking team’s expertise in managing application traffic at scale and providing high-quality application performance and security services are as vital in the cloud as they are in the data center.
Security teams have the responsibility of protecting your apps, your customers, and your data from an increasing range of threats. While app teams have a huge role to play, the security team—together with their networking counterparts—and the application security services they provide are the first (and often the last) line of defense against a horde of bots and bad actors that would exploit vulnerabilities to harm your business.
These are the consumers of the NetOps- and SecOps-created application performance and security services. Whether the cloud has helped create the modern CI/CD deployment model of application development, or the methodology changes have helped create the cloud might be a subject of debate. Wherever you land on that question, it’s clear that CI/CD and other DevOps methodologies are here to stay—and the rest of the infrastructure needs to snap in to this application development and deployment methodology.
Supplying the same baseline policies for web applications in multiple clouds gives you the assurance that your applications are protected and high performing.
Protect your apps from the most common exploits—no matter where they are deployed—by building a library of standard security policies that can be deployed on demand.
For example, you can create an Advanced WAF baseline policy in a development and test environment, then export it to the BIG-IQ management platform where it can be referenced by an application template and deployed with the rest of the configuration—across multiple clouds. Even better, the policy can use the learning capability of all devices it’s deployed on and combine the data to improve the policy, which can then be pushed back out to the BIG-IP images running in the clouds.
NetOps can assemble a catalog of services that combine security policies, application delivery policies, and logging configurations, and then assign them based on different criteria such as role.
Application templates can be created manually or cloned from existing configurations. Templates can even be stored in source code management systems and deployed by API. F5 continues to innovate within application services with our new Application Services 3 (AS3) templates that offer a programmatic, automated, declarative model for configuration of BIG-IP devices and app services.
A multi-cloud world needs a multi-footprint solution. The BIG-IP platform can be deployed as software in the public or private cloud, or as hardware in private cloud environments, like a corporate data center.
The best part is that your entire F5 portfolio can be managed from one console regardless of where your BIG-IP devices and the applications they serve are deployed—in public clouds, private clouds, or on bare metal.
If you need a dedicated per-app architecture, then BIG-IP Cloud Edition offers a right-sized platform designed to give every app its own individual BIG-IP instance, combined with centralized management, deep application-centric analytics for easy troubleshooting, intelligent autoscaling, and flexible consumption models.
You might need to deploy and onboard new instances dynamically—so there are cloud templates for all major clouds that enable API-driven platform deployment, and a reusable, declarative onboarding system to perform the initial configuration.
BIG-IQ delivers the right insights to the right people, helping them optimize their applications. By configuring rich telemetry feeds from the BIG-IP instances, then aggregating and displaying the data in an interactive drill-down GUI, BIG-IQ gives each team the information they need to do their jobs better.
NetOps teams get information on network and platform performance, as well as key application insights, which enables them to become more valuable to their organizations.
Security teams can author and maintain tight control of multi-cloud security policies, monitor the rate of attack and attack vectors, and glean other key insights that help them keep applications and the infrastructure they run on safe from malicious actors and insider errors alike.
Application teams can monitor the apps they are responsible for in any virtualized environment—and get critical metrics like latency, round trip times, and page load times. These insights help them flag issues early, identify root causes accurately and quickly, and collaborate with SecOps and NetOps more effectively.