Coinciding with its Agility 2020 event, F5 (NASDAQ: FFIV) today introduced new solutions to provide enhanced application visibility and control throughout the application lifecycle. These solutions give customers end-to-end visibility into the health and performance of applications, along with integrated traffic, security, and API management controls to take action based on those insights, surfacing new ways to lower operational overhead and achieve faster time to market.
For most organizations, delivering powerful new digital experiences to their customers and employees requires stitching together capabilities from a mix of traditional and modern application architectures and infrastructure environments. As these organizations embrace multi-cloud strategies, this landscape only gets more diverse and complex. Recognizing that applications are the most important assets of digital organizations and that all organizations today lack toolsets enabling effective management of those assets, F5’s focus is on closing that divide—with end-to-end application-centric visibility being the first step. F5 powers applications from development through their entire lifecycle, surfacing insights, behavioral patterns, and anomalies via telemetry outside the reach of other vendor tools, so that organizations can deliver differentiated, high-performing, and secure digital experiences.
“Today, nearly every organization is accelerating their digital transformation efforts, but they are flying blind, as they lack visibility into how many applications they’re running, let alone how each app is performing or if those apps are secure,” said Kara Sprague, EVP and General Manager of BIG-IP at F5. “Applications, traditional and modern, derive many advantages in being distributed throughout on-prem, cloud, and microservice environments—but this often fragments visibility and enterprise-wide control. F5 empowers app owners, developers, and IT operators with the telemetry and closed-loop automation required to effectively troubleshoot, identify threat areas, and deliver new digital capabilities in minutes, not days or weeks.”
F5 is introducing three complementary offerings to deliver superior visibility, actionable analytics, and automated traffic management and security across an organization’s entire app portfolio. F5’s BIG-IP and BIG-IQ solutions offer health, security, and performance analytics and deep troubleshooting tools for NetOps and SecOps teams. NGINX Controller complements this with additional capabilities for AppDev and DevOps teams, providing API-driven visibility, analytics, and controls via ADC, API management, and application security services running on NGINX Plus. Through integrations with BIG-IQ, NGINX Controller, and other F5 offerings—as well as a vast array of third-party integrations—F5 Beacon aggregates telemetry from across the application data path to offer a complete end-to-end view of applications as well as a holistic, enterprise-wide view of an organization’s application portfolio for use by application owners, IT operations professionals, and line-of-business managers.
Specifically, the company is introducing:
- F5 Beacon – A new SaaS offering, Beacon delivers the platform for true end-to-end application visibility, providing actionable insights to facilitate troubleshooting and decision-making for application owners and IT operations professionals. Beacon ingests telemetry data streams from multiple sources such as BIG-IP, NGINX, and F5 Cloud Services, as well as third-party technologies to provide an end-to-end view of application topologies, dependencies, user experience, health, and performance. Additionally, Beacon Insights, through an open and extensible platform, help solve the challenges associated with end-to-end anomaly detection, root cause analysis, and security visibility and compliance. Beacon is differentiated from other solutions in the monitoring and analytics space in that it is application-centric, orienting data and analytics around the unit of an application, enabling organizations to focus efforts on improving end-to-end application performance and end-user experience. Beacon is further differentiated in that it accomplishes this without requiring significant integration work; it surfaces rich insights on end-to-end application performance by tapping into the telemetry data from F5’s broad portfolio of application delivery and security offerings (including NGINX), which are used by half of the world’s applications, as well as a growing number of third-party offerings.
- BIG-IQ 7.1 – As the most comprehensive central management, orchestration, and analytics solution for F5’s BIG-IP app services, BIG-IQ capabilities include app services management, security-specific dashboards, and tight integrations with the F5 Automation Toolchain. With BIG-IQ, operations teams gain visibility into the overall health, status, and performance of their BIG-IP app delivery and security services from an application-centric dashboard. This latest release enables visibility of legacy application services, streamlines management workflows, and adds new security management functionality.
- NGINX Controller 3.4 – NGINX’s application delivery and performance platform offers a broad set of services for load balancing, analytics, and API management in and across clouds. With and application-centric approach, this version of NGINX Controller enhances per-app analytics and improves declarative API capabilities, ensuring NetOps, DevOps, and other teams can manage tasks across the entire application lifecycle. As a result, enterprises can speed time to market with collaborative workflows integrated into CI/CD pipelines via API calls or the updated GUI. Through NGINX Controller, teams can simplify deployment, configuration, and monitoring for NGINX Plus, whether it’s deployed as a load balancer, API gateway, or a proxy in a microservices environment.
These three offerings are designed to integrate capabilities from across the application data path—the pathway through which application traffic flows to reach an end user—helping customers:
- Gain End-to-End Visibility of Dynamic App Functions for Optimized Digital Experiences
Comprehensive app visibility has proved elusive in light of several factors, including the proliferation of myriad monitoring and analytics tools. These monitoring and analytics tools are typically decoupled from the underlying application services that perform critical functions in delivering and securing the application. Ultimately, what’s been missing—and what F5 Beacon delivers—is an easy way to harmonize different levels of visibility and analytics around these important functions and across traditional and modern applications deployed in on-premises and multi-cloud environments. App owners and IT operations professionals can get a holistic view of app health and risk across their application portfolio and drive improvements in SLAs such as availability, responsiveness, and mean-time-to-resolution through a granular mapping of the end-to-end application topology and associated application delivery and security services.
- Combine Visibility and Controls to Improve Business Outcomes
Unique to F5 is the ability to combine different dimensions of visibility and control throughout the app deployment and delivery lifecycle. For instance, BIG-IQ offers visibility into and management and orchestration of the BIG-IP application services footprint, most commonly used for load balancing, firewall, access management, and app security for traditional applications spanning multi-cloud environments. NGINX Controller does the same for NGINX Plus deployments, most commonly used as the web server, ingress controller, API gateway, and load balancing solution in modern, container-native applications. F5 Beacon provides end-to-end application-centric visibility across traditional and modern apps, combining telemetry from both BIG-IP and NGINX Plus footprints with agents such as Telegraf, webhook APIs, and a growing number of third-party ecosystem integrations.
- Simplify the Deployment of Advanced Controls for SaaS and Container-Based Apps
With organizations ramping up their digital initiatives, the world is also shifting toward new application architectures relying on SaaS solutions and microservices that are quickly spun up in containers and then securely connected and authenticated via APIs. As enterprises look to deploy technologies like containers orchestrated by Kubernetes, F5 is introducing a set of solutions to provide needed visibility for traffic management, API management, and app security. Designed to run natively in clouds and containers, NGINX Controller provides deep insights into the performance of modern app architecture components through telemetry and integrations with NGINX Plus.
For additional perspective on today’s news, please see the new executive blog from Kara Sprague, Light It Up: A Look at F5’s New Tools for Application-Centric Visibility.
F5 Beacon, BIG-IQ 7.1, and NGINX Controller 3.4 are all generally available today.