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F5 intros Silverline, a layer 4-7 networking as a service platform

With Silverline, F5 has expanded Defense.Net's cloud-based DDoS protection into an ADC-as-a-service platform.

F5 Networks Inc. introduced Silverline, a new platform for Layer 4-7 networking as a service. Through Silverline, enterprises will be able to subscribe to Big-IP network services as SaaS-based applications.

Silverline is based on F5's acquisition of Defense.Net, a cloud-based distributed denial of service mitigation provider. For the Silverline launch, F5 has expanded the underlying infrastructure of Defense.Net and extended the DDoS protection service portfolio that company offered. It also plans to add other application delivery services over Silverline.

"We're going to expand [Silverline] to things like Web application firewall [WAF]as a service. We're looking at other things like global traffic management and DNS-type services," said Karl Triebes, F5's executive vice president of product development and chief technical officer. "Ultimately we'll be able to offer a large portfolio of our application services that we provide [today] on-premises as a service [later] as part of Silverline."

Security services, like a secure Web gateway, are the best initial use cases for a networking-as-a-service platform like Silverline, said Andrew Lerner, research director for Gartner Inc. However, as enterprises move more applications to the cloud, they will want to consume additional Layer 4-7 services in this manner, he said.

Silverline offers alternative way to consume F5 services in the cloud

Silverline isn't the first opportunity for enterprises to consume F5 services in the cloud. The vendor offers Big-IP Virtual Edition via several infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers, including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

One advantage with a platform like Silverline is the reduced operational complexity. Enterprises that consume Big-IP via an IaaS provider need a lot of the same expertise they would need to deploy an F5 appliance in a data center. "You're still managing and running it like an application delivery controller that you own and operate," Lerner said. "If you're running it in the [Silverline] cloud, it's supplementing your on-premises software. In essence [Silverline] is additional services layered in."

"As we go forward, we're able to link these services with the on-premises capabilities that are in our core F5 products," Triebes said. Essentially, F5 customers can use the company's Synthesis architecture, which orchestrates multiple F5 platforms into a fabric, to integrate Silverline services into its other F5-based technologies, whether those are Layer 4-7 services within their own data centers or virtual appliances deployed in the public cloud.

F5 Silverline DDoS offers three service models

At the time that F5 acquired it, Defense.Net operated mostly as a secondary DDoS service for enterprises. If a company's existing DDoS mitigation capabilities were faltering, Defense.Net would jump into action to supplement the primary DDoS mitigation technology.

F5 is expanding this secondary service with its new Silverline platform, Triebes said. The original Defense.Net service will now be known as Ready Defense. F5 added the "Always On" service, which will serve as a data center operator's first line of defense against DDoS attacks, he said. This service will continuously scrub all incoming traffic before it reaches the customer's infrastructure. F5 also introduced "Always Available," a stand-by service that will activate as soon as the customer identifies an attack.

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