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Virtualization Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff, Lori MacVittie, Gigaom Research

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F5 Synthesis: Massive Scale Needs Management

#sdas #virtualization Scaling virtual infrastructure is one thing, managing it is another

When virtualization first took off there was a fear - and it was a valid fear - of virtual sprawl. Virtual sprawl was the end result of spawning lots and lots of virtual machines and then essentially losing them in the resulting mess. Management tools - which would evolve into orchestration systems - arrived to save us from this brave new world of virtual machine madness. Phew. synthesis-logo

As the world now turns its virtualization wand toward infrastructure it behooves us to consider, up front, whether or not we're ready to manage the resulting sprawl of virtualized network functions. It's an easy thing to virtualize, for example, an ADC (application delivery controller), but it's quite another to ensure there's a management (or orchestration) system capable of wrangling sanity out of the potentially insane sprawl of virtual machines that might result. It's even more important at the infrastructure layer to manage this process because these network functions are often - generally - in the data path. That means traffic flows through these virtual machines. Traffic from which business value (and ultimately revenue - and your paycheck) is derived.

So while it's wonderful that we (the network industry at large) is jumping on the virtual bandwagon, before you jump on it's imperative to evaluate whether or not there's a ready solution to managing those virtual machines and orchestrating the services being virtually provisioned.

F5 Synthesis Intelligent Services Orchestration: Services Fabric Management

One of the key tenets of F5 Synthesis is Intelligent Services Orchestration. Intelligent Services Orchestration is delivered by a solution we call BIG-IQ, which is really a framework for supporting a variety of orchestration and automation needs that span the devices comprising the High Performance Services Fabric as well as the provisioning and governance of the Software Defined Application Services (SDAS) it delivers, regardless of where those services might be deployed (on or off-premise, cloud or data center). 

big-iq-system-4.2 

F5 Synthesis 1.5 brings with it the introduction of BIG-IQ Device. BIG-IQ Device is designed to address those challenges associated with managing the F5 Synthesis Services Fabric. It also provides the means by which "virtual network appliance" sprawl can be redressed from a central location, even if those virtual appliances are deployed beyond the traditional data center boundaries, such as in cloud environments.

BIG-IQ Device brings complete device lifecycle management to your environment. BIG-IQ Device can manage physical, virtual or cloud-deployed service fabric instances with equal alacrity.

The unique nature of virtual appliances, however, means more than just simple inventory, configuration and licensing management. Virtual appliances are intended, in many scenarios, to be temporary. They're used to deliver services for short-term applications, to augment capacity in times of sudden (or seasonal) demand, and as a way to seamlessly enable maintenance of other instance types as well as being big-iq licensing poolspermanent fixtures in the Synthesis Services Fabric.

This means a management system capable of deploying, licensing, and managing virtual devices without constraints. BIG-IQ Device brings this style of management to F5 Synthesis with its unique virtual appliance lifecycle management capabilities. When coupled with F5 Synthesis' new virtual appliance licensing pool capabilities, organizations realize greater flexibility in taking advantage of F5 virtual appliances. Virtual appliances can share a pool of licenses, making it easy to temporarily spin up and retire virtual appliances and application services in environments like VMware and AWS. UCS backup and restore of virtual appliance configuration ensures a consistent and successful launch can be replicated in the future at any time.

It's not enough to merely say "we also have virtual appliances" anymore. The very real danger of service sprawl (especially when deployed in public cloud environments where a lost instance keeps racking up hourly fees) must be addressed with a comprehensive and flexible management system. For F5 Synthesis that system is BIG-IQ and its Device, Cloud and Security applications.

For more information on Synthesis:

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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.