F5 Site Brings Developers, Network Administrators Together


Application traffic management vendor F5 Networks is fostering cooperation between VARs and application developers with its new F5 DevCentral, an online developer site for its iControl application programming interface and software development kit.

The site provides quick start guides, sample code, documentation and a discussion forum for network administrators and application developers, said Jeff Browning, iControl product manager for F5, based here.

F5's iControl, launched two years ago, enables applications to interact directly with F5 network devices through a Web services SOAP/XML interface.

Some 1,100 enterprises, ISV partners and solution providers have downloaded the iControl SDK so far, Browning said.

Also, software vendors including BEA Systems, Microsoft, Mercury Interactive, Oracle, Sanctum and webMethods have used iControl to integrate their products, Browning added.

Of course DevCentral's aim is to increase adoption of iControl, and thus, F5 hardware, Browning said, but he also sees it as a place where networking professionals and applications developers can come together.

Thus far, about 60 percent of the iControl applications implemented have come from the networking side, with the other 40 percent coming from application developers, he said. Also, DevCentral is a good place for VARs to go for resources if they want to build their own application development practices, Browning said.

Steve Giovannetti, founder of HubCity Media, an application development specialist in Highland Park, N.J., said iControl exposes all the functionality available to a network administrator as a programmable API.

"The network engineer may still use the command line, but the application developer can now write code to manage the box or make it more aware of what's going on at the application level," Giovannetti said. "We can influence the load balancing."

Hub City is partnering with Metuchen, N.J.-based VAR Sales Strategies, an F5 partner, on iControl implementations, Giovannetti said.

Stephen Spressert, vice president of sales for SSI, said iControl and the Hub City partnership allow SSI to get closer to the customer. "You have a stronger relationship when you are at the application level, because the applications are solving business problems," he said.