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F5 & Riverbed Take to the Cloud

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
11/20/2012
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F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV) and Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD) now support virtual versions of their appliances for private clouds on Amazon Web Services Inc. , removing one common barrier to the adoption of cloud services.

It's the "private" part that's important. Both companies are announcing the ability to run virtual versions of their appliances on Amazon's Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), a more serious, enterprise-grade environment than the company's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

Riverbed made its announcement Monday, and F5's is coming after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Both announcements are timed to create chatter at Amazon's AWS re:Invent conference, happening next week in Las Vegas.

Everybody wants to move stuff to the cloud because it's cool, but there's an extra angle for application delivery controllers (ADCs). Services being migrated to the cloud are sometimes reliant on functions such as load balancing or WAN optimization, so they've got to go to the cloud, too.

That would be true of any cloud, and both companies already support virtual ADC versions running under the usual hypervisors. But Amazon's cloud is the one that customers, including service providers, particularly want to see supported, says Lori MacVittie, F5's senior technical manager.

"It's an environment customers are already familiar with, from a management standpoint. Many of their lab developments went to Amazon because it's easy," she says.

Grand Central
Moving an ADC to the cloud also fixes a particular complication that comes with cloud migration, MacVittie says. Before now, the traffic on an enterprise network was typically shuttled through a firewall and probably a load balancer. That created a checkpoint that all traffic went through, a spot that could be tapped to test the health of the network.

That checkpoint is vanishing with the rise of mobile devices and cloud-based workloads. Traffic could be taking any number of routes to any number of destinations. "That load balancer is no longer between my phone [or computer] and my SaaS," MacVittie says.

A virtualized ADC can re-create that single point, figuratively. "This concept has worked so well in the past that if it is applied intelligently, it can work again. But you can't just have one physical point, not really," MacVittie says.

Riverbed's announcement Monday was about VPC, but it's been offering virtual Stingrays on Amazon's EC2 since 2009, says Director of Marketing Paul Wallace. Multiple configurations of Stingrays are available in the Amazon Marketplace, he says.

F5, though, is new to Amazon. F5's BIG-IP system couldn't run on EC2 because it transmits its management signaling on a network connection separate from the traffic its handling. In other words, it uses two network connections, and only VPC supports multiple network interface controllers (NICs), MacVittie says.

For more



— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:17:25 PM
re: F5 & Riverbed Take to the Cloud


I wonder... to what extent do ADCs eventually become pure software?


A lot of that work is going to go into the cloud, following the applications - that's pretty clear. You've also got Cisco and Juniper basically giving up on hardware load balancers and the like.


I mean, I kind of know the answer. This topic always gets responded to with a screed about how there'll always be a need for hardware firewalls, etc., in certain situations. Probably true.

napiiju
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napiiju,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:17:24 PM
re: F5 & Riverbed Take to the Cloud


Today they pack their IP in a physical box and charge premium for it. When everything is virtualized, the barrier for entry would be lower and other players big (e.g. Cisco) and small would have the opportunity to has a slice of the revenues.


 

Pete Baldwin
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Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:17:13 PM
re: F5 & Riverbed Take to the Cloud


> Today they pack their IP in a physical box and charge premium for it. When everything is virtualized, the barrier for entry would be lower and other players big (e.g. Cisco) and small would have the opportunity to has a slice of the revenues.


That's certainly one possibility. I think a lot of players, including Cisco, are hoping virtualization can help the ADC market share get disseminated outward from F5.


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