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A10 ships programmable application delivery controller

A10 Networks has re-architected the software within its application delivery controller, making it more customizable for inserting Layer 4-7 services in SDN, NFV and cloud applications.

A10 Networks has changed the architecture of its Thunder application delivery controllers to speed up the process of prototyping, testing and provisioning new applications and to make it easier to insert network services into applications running in the data center or the cloud.

A10 introduced this week the new architecture, called Harmony, and version 4.0 of its Advanced Core Operating System (ACOS). Both drive the company's Thunder Series application deliver controllers (ADCs), which provide server load balancing and Layer 4-7 services like IPv6 migration and a DNS application firewall.

The releases are the most significant since A10 switched to a 64-bit version of ACOS in 2009, the company said.

Harmony APIs

Harmony provides application programming interfaces (APIs) for more customizable integration between the controller and applications running in several frameworks, including software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV) and cloud computing.

"I think the most important thing here is the increased emphasis on programmability and security in hybrid service environments, assuming it all works as advertised," said John Burke, CIO and principal research analyst at Nemertes Research.

A10 has made the ADC platform more controllable through new automation and orchestration tools that can deliver services to applications running on premises or in public clouds that deliver infrastructure or platform as a service, Burke said. The tools also can help secure such hybrid environments.

A10 customers have the option of running the company's platform in an appliance or virtually within the data center or the cloud.

Among the important uses of the latest APIs is the ability to integrate ACOS and the company's other applications with cloud orchestration management and monitoring systems, said Mike Fratto, a principal analyst at Current Analysis.

"The integration capabilities will help both enterprises and cloud providers streamline operations through robust service insertion and management," Fratto said.

Early last year, A10 announced its aCloud Services Architecture that helped customers insert Layer 4-7 services into SDN and cloud orchestration platforms. The architecture also included support for network overlay tunneling protocols.

The new APIs are the result of customers asking for more tools to customize the policy elements within the controller, said Paul Nicholson, A10's director of product marketing.

"Really, that's the big change in the operating system," Nicholson said. "Adding some additional features and having this highly configurable policy engine that very large organizations will take advantage of."

Improved features

Services within ACOS that have received enhancements include Secure Interconnect IPsec VPN, SSL Insight, application access management and the Web application firewall.

"Pushing more security into the platform is also a boon, as we see again and again that security in depth is key to either preventing or limiting the damage from systems compromises," Burke said.

The platform integration with software-as-a-service environments also helps strengthen security when integrating online applications with in-house software, he said.

A virtualized version of the A10 ADC appliance is available to subscribers on Amazon Web services. A10 is also in the process of getting its product certified for Microsoft's platform as a service (PaaS), Azure.

Additionally, A10 announced that integration was available between the Thunder ADCs and the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), which lets users insert Layer 4-7 services into the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC).

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