Welcome!

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.

reactive-vs-synthesis

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.

Latest Stories
"We are an all-flash array storage provider but our focus has been on VM-aware storage specifically for virtualized applications," stated Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, a Developer Advocate with IBM Cloud Data Services, discussed...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, discussed using predictive analytics to mon...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...