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F5 pushing application delivery platform to the Equinix hybrid cloud

Data center provider Equinix has agreed to provide customers with the option of using the F5 application delivery platform in hybrid cloud environments.

F5 Networks has made its BIG-IP application delivery platform available through data center provider Equinix Inc. F5 has targeted the latest offering at companies using Equinix's hybrid cloud technology.

F5 also introduced this week a refresh of its BIG-IP hardware appliance. The BIG-IP iSeries is more robust than previous versions and contains new programmability features.

F5's Equinix partnership makes BIG-IP security, load balancing and other application delivery services available to companies using an Equinix-powered hybrid cloud. Equinix provides a product called Cloud Exchange that connects a private cloud running in one of its data centers to a public cloud, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.

The Equinix offering is an extension of the BIG-IP overhaul F5 introduced last year. The upgrade of the application delivery platform included 194 new features with an emphasis on providing Layer 4-7 services to applications running in a hybrid cloud environment.

Spending on cloud IT infrastructure is growing much faster than sales of traditional IT systems. IDC predicts sales of the former will grow 15% annually to $53 billion by 2019.

BIG-IP iSeries application delivery platform

The BIG-IP appliance refresh includes support for the Node.js development platform, which lets companies program the iSeries to meet demand. "F5 has built a number of features into the programmable hardware so customers can rapidly scale up and down the ADC [application delivery controller] features they need without having to worry about performance degradation," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at ZK Research, based in Westminster, Mass.

Being able to adjust the hardware to demand is important in cloud environments that use containers and microservices with fluctuating workloads, Kerravala said. "Programmable hardware brings many of the agility benefits of software but still maintains performance at scale, which is important for high-performance environments."

But F5 programming features carry a cost, according to Gartner. The research firm warned in a report released this year that the vendor's programming capabilities were among "a series of lock-in features." F5 is also the highest-priced application delivery platform provider, Gartner said.

Along with the BIG-IP appliance, F5 released lightweight connectors that let companies integrate ADC services with business software or a containerized application running in a public or private cloud.

The vendor also released the Application Services Proxy, which is a lightweight load balancer and application traffic manager. Uses for the software include application development and testing environments.

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