Click here to close now.


SDN Journal Authors: Stefan Dietrich, Elizabeth White, Peter Silva, Pat Romanski, Don MacVittie

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Platform Is Strategy. Product Is Tactics

One of the primary reasons our networks are the way they are is that we're reactive

Inarguably one of the drivers of software-defined architectures (cloud, SDDC, and SDN) as well as movements like DevOps is the complexity inherent in today's data center networks. For years now we've added applications and services, and responded to new threats and requirements from the business with new boxes and new capabilities. All of them cobbled together using traditional networking principles that adhere to providing reliability and scale through redundancy.

The result is complex, hard to manage, and even more difficult to change at a moments notice.

Emerging architectural models based solely on cloud computing models or as part of larger, software-defined initiatives, attempt to resolve this issue by introducing abstraction and programmability. To get around the reality that deploying new services in a timely manner takes days if not weeks or even months, we figure that by moving to a programmatic, software-based model we can become more efficient.

app services word cloud

Except we aren't becoming more efficient, we're just doing what we've always done. We're just doing it faster. We're not eliminating complexity, we're getting around it by adding a layer of scripts and integration designed to make us forget just how incredibly complex our networks really are.

One of the primary reasons our networks are the way they are is that we're reactive.

What we've been doing for years now is just reacting to events. Threats, new applications, new requirements - all these events inevitably wind up with IT deploying yet another "middle box." A self-contained appliance - hardware or software - that does X. Protects against X, improves Y, enhances Z.  And then something else happens and we do it again. And again. And ... you get the point. We react and the result is an increasingly complex topological nightmare we call the data center network.

What we need to do is find a better model, a strategic model that enables us to deploy those solutions that protect against X, improve Y and enhance Z without adding complexity and increasing the already confusing topology in the network. We need to break out of our tactical mode and start thinking strategically so we can transform IT to be what it needs to be to align IT results with business expectations.

That means we need to start thinking platform, not product.

Platform is Strategic. Product is Tactical.

We know that the number of services actually in use in the data center has been increasing in response to all the technological shifts caused by trends like security, cloud and mobility. We’ve talked to customers that have more than 20 different services (and vendors) delivering services critical to the security, performance and reliability of applications. Every time a new threat or a new trend impacts the data center, we respond with a new service.

That’s one of the reasons you rarely see a detailed architectural diagram at the application flow level – because every single interaction with a customer, partner or employee can have its own unique flow and that flow traverses a variety of services depending on the user, device, network and application and even business purpose.

That's the product way.

What we need to do is shift our attention to platforms, and leverage them to reduce complexity while at the same time solving problems - and doing so faster and more efficiently. That's one of the primary benefits of Synthesis.

Synthesis' High Performance Services Fabric is built by gluing together a platform - the ADC - using new scalability models (ScaleN). The platform is what enables organizations to deploy a wide variety of services but gain operational efficiencies from the fact that the underlying platform is the same. F5 Software Defined Application Services (SDAS) are all deployable on the same, operationally consistent platform regardless of where it might physically reside. Cloud, virtual machine or hardware makes no difference. It's the platform that brings consistency to the table and enables rapid provisioning of new services that protect X, improve Y and enhance Z.


In the past year we've brought a number of new services to the Synthesis architecture including Cloud Identity Federation, Web Anti-Fraud, Mobile optimizations and a Secure Web Gateway. All these services were immediately deployable on the existing platform that comprises the Synthesis High Performance Services Fabric. As we add new capabilities and services, they, too, are deployable on the same platform, in the same fabric-based approach and immediately gain all the benefits that come from the platform: massive scalability, high performance, reliability and hardened security.

A platform approach means you can realize a level of peace of mind about the future and what might crop up next. Whether it's a new business requirement or a new threat, using a platform approach means no more shoehorning a new box into the topology. It means being able to take advantage of operational consistency across cloud and on-premise deployments. It means being able to expand capabilities without needing to expand budgets to support new training, new services, and new contracts.

A platform approach to service deployment in data center networks is strategic. And with the constant rate of change headed our way thanks to the Internet of Things and mobility, the one thing we can't afford to to go without is a sound strategy for dealing with the technological ramifications on the network.

Read the original blog entry...

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.

@CloudExpo Stories
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and t...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...