For some time now, software-defined networking (SDN) and application delivery controllers (ADCs) have been on a collision course in terms of which platform will ultimately deliver the most control over applications.
Just about every SDN comes with a set of northbound application programming interfaces (APIs) that promises to give applications more control over the network. Of course, ADCs have been giving application control over the data center infrastructure for years.
F5 Networks has moved to extend the reach of the ADC to now include SDN. The company rolled out its ScaleN architecture, which extends control to any SDN that supports VXLAN or NVGRE, both of which are used in VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V environments, respectively.
According to Alan Murphy, director of enterprise marketing architecture for F5 Networks, IT organizations are fundamentally measured by application performance. While SDN offers promising new capabilities in that regard, it will be a lot simpler for IT organizations to invoke those capabilities via an ADC that is already managing access to most of the other resources in the data center.
In effect, says Murphy, ADCs essentially allow IT organizations to incorporate multiple software-defined networks into a single logical federated network.
As part of that effort, F5 Networks also announced the release of iCall, a set of policy-based tools for automating the management of the control plane across the network layer along with new physical and virtual editions of BIG-IP ADCs. The goal, says Murphy, is to give application owners the tools they need to dynamically scale data center infrastructure regardless of the application deployment model.
Of course, with its recent acquisition of LineRate Systems, F5 Networks has additional ambitions in the SDN space. As far as F5 Networks is concerned, however, the ADC will remain the focal point of application control in the data center.