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F5 Synthesis: The Time is Right

#SDN #Devops #Cloud #SDAS #SDDC The time is right for an answer to the layer 4-7 services question.

synthesis-logo"If you look at the standard SDN model, [Layer 4-7 services] are applications that can basically run on the [SDN] controller platform. But that's not the only way to do them. We'll hear about different approaches. Network services for SDN are going to be a big story in 2013." -- Brad Casemore, IDC

I love this quote from Brad (in fact this is the second time I've used it) because I've held the same opinion since SDN first burst onto the scene. At the time, the belief that layer 4-7 services were applications that could be deployed on the SDN controller seemed reasonable. Since that time, however, it's become accepted reality that an SDN controller built to manage and direct flows and packets - and the data path elements that carry out its commands - are not built to manage and direct streams and messages nor support a model that essentially forces it to participate in the data path.

But that's not to say that the SDN principles can't be applied to layer 4-7 services, or that SDN is the only way to improve service velocity and achieve the economy of scale necessary to enable every application to take advantage of application services to improve performance, security or reliability.

Remember that SDN (or something like it) was inevitable. Pressure mounting to increase service velocity and align with devops and app dev meant something had to change in the network. SDN appears to be that change for layer 2-3. And the time is right for a complementary change for layer 4-7 services.

We call it Synthesis™.

F5 Synthesis is an architectural vision for delivering device, network, and application services without constraints. The result is Software Defined Application Services™ (SDAS) delivered by a high-performance, all-active service fabric that when combined with new licensing models dramatically changes the economy of scale for application services. Applications previously unable to find room in their budget for pairs of dedicated hardware to enable services will be able to benefit from Synthesis' service-centric approach. Service velocity is improved by automation and orchestration at every layer, from fabric instances to the services provisioned for each application. 

F5 Synthesis comprises three core components: 


  • High Performance Fabric – F5 physical and virtual products form an elastic, multi-tenant service fabric that delivers Software Defined Application Services. The service fabric can cluster up to 32 F5 devices deployed across any combination of hardware, software or cloud and supports up to 80* unique instances per device. The result is a combined throughput of 20 TB and connection capacity of 9.2 billion (that's more than 3 times the capacity needed to connect every Internet user in the world**). The service fabric is application-driven; its core services of availability, failover and clustering are focused on and driven by application requirements and needs. It is also highly programmable across configuration, control and data planes, with REStful APIs, data path scripting languages (iRules, node.js, Groovy) and event-based configuration scripting (iCall, TMSH) to ensure a highly responsive, extensible system.
  • Intelligent Services Orchestration – To realize the economy of scale necessary to enable a "leave no application behind" strategy, automated provisioning and orchestration is a must. F5’s architectural vision enables enterprises and service providers to seamlessly manage, scale, and automate the richest set of application services spanning device, network and application requirements for reliability, security and performance. Complementing the service fabric's multi-tenancy is a multi-tenant approach to management, enabling organizations to move closer to IT-as-a-Service without concern it might impact stability or security of the service fabric. 
  • Simplified Business Models – To better support the deployment of flexible services with cloud, hybrid, and usage-based IT models, F5 is simplifying its licensing and product bundling practices. Combined with a highly elastic service fabric and Intelligent Services Orchestration, simplified business models, F5 Synthesis enables organizations to achieve new economies of scale from both a cost savings and operational perspective.


In much broader terms, F5 Synthesis is the next evolution for application delivery. The changing application and network architecture landscape requires such an evolution. It is, after all, an application-driven world, and an application world needs solutions that better enable IT and business stakeholders to align technology to meet today's most pressing challenges: cloud enablement, security and mobility of devices, networks and applications.The application services that have become critical to ensuring the reliability, security and performance of a wide variety of applications must be provisioned, managed and scaled in a way that aligns with an application-driven world.

That way is F5 Synthesis and Software Defined Application Services.

You can learn more about Synthesis here.

*40,000 when combining administrative instances with vCMP   

** Based on Sept 2013 Internet user population of 2.4B http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

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More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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