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F5 extends BIG-IP application delivery platform to the cloud

The latest version of the F5 BIG-IP application delivery platform supports software running on Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services.

F5 Networks Inc. has introduced a major upgrade of its BIG-IP software for application acceleration and security. BIG-IP version 12 includes 194 new features with an emphasis on cloud applications and security.

The company also announced this week that the BIG-IP application delivery platform would be available in the fall in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. The software also runs in Amazon Web Services.

The latest release is designed to work as well with cloud-based applications as with on-premise software, said Clifford Grossner, Ph.D., analyst for IHS Inc., based in Englewood, Colo. This is important to follow customers moving business software to platform as a service (PaaS) providers.

"That enables hybrid cloud architectures, which are what enterprises are striving for," Grossner said.

Applications moved to the cloud are covered under a company's current F5 license, as long as the customer does not exceed the number of BIG-IP instances covered under the contract. A pay-as-you-go license is also available for companies using Azure or Amazon Web Services.

BIG-IP security

Security enhancements include identifying and authenticating people accessing cloud and in-house virtual applications. The upgrade also provides single sign-on (SSO) for applications running on mobile devices or as online services, such as Microsoft Office 365.

Other new features include technology for mitigating distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against on-premise and cloud applications. Customers can also extend BIG-IP's Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) services to the cloud.

In October, F5 plans to release a virtual edition of the latest BIG-IP that can run in Microsoft's Azure PaaS. Adding cloud service provider (CSP) support to BIG-IP is in line with F5's overall strategy of supporting applications however they are deployed. The vendor plans to extend BIG-IP integration to specific software-defined networking (SDN) products in the future.

F5 plans to release BIG-IP version 12 in September.

Companies can program BIG-IP and configure its policy engines, so the software can respond automatically to events in the application delivery environment. For example, access to business software can be limited to a group of employees or workloads can be redirected when application demand passes a threshold.

F5 started as an appliance provider, but is increasingly selling more of its products as software. The company reported last month that software sales accounted for nearly  one-third of revenue in the quarter ended in June. That percentage is expected to rise, as companies move more workloads to cloud providers.

F5 customers include Facebook Inc., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and the U.S. government.

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