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F5 Networks Brings Application Visibility, Analytics To The Remote Workforce

Application performance specialist F5 Networks unveiled a brand new SaaS-based application visibility tool, F5 Beacon, and updated two of its existing offerings, Big-IQ and NGINX Controller, which will come in handy for running services in any environment, the company said.

F5 Networks has been in the application performance game for a long time, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made application visibility and management even more critical as employees work from home and businesses rapidly transform their environments to keep their staff productive from any location.

"COVID-19 has been a force that has made digital transformation real for a lot of companies … and it's highlighted a number of things we've been talking about for a while. Because of the massive scale-up that a number of customers and organizations now have to go and do in the real world, it's testing weak points in their strategies," said Hitesh Patel, senior director of product management, automation, orchestration, and ecosystems for F5 Networks. “We want to bring application visibility and context to the infrastructure conversation.”

To that end, Seattle-based F5 on Tuesday unveiled a brand-new SaaS-based application visibility tool and updated two of its existing offerings -- Big-IQ and NGINX Controller -- to help customers run services in any environment with added performance insights, Patel said.

[Related: F5 Networks, NGINX Launch First Combined App Delivery Controller]

F5 Beacon is a cloud-based solution that lets businesses view application health and performance characteristics in one place. The offering uses streaming telemetry data from third-party sources and F5 solutions such as BIG-IP, BIG-IQ, NGINX Controller, and F5 Cloud Services DNS Load Balancer for visibility into applications services at every stage, the company said.

For F5 partners, Beacon creates a platform to "package up" their value for end customers, Patel said. "We have partners that know their customer's environment very well and have done their own integrations on behalf of their customers. We want to open that up and let partners create new insights for perhaps specific verticals," he said.

F5 has launched BIG-IQ 7.1, the latest version of its centralized management console, which now offers an application-centric view of health, security and performance for applications using BIG-IP application services. BIG-IQ 7.1 includes troubleshooting tools for NetOps, SecOps, App Dev, and DevOps teams and can also support brownfield applications, the company said, which means that the tool will read existing configurations on BIG-IP devices and translate them into an application-centric view.

The firm also announced NGINX Controller version 3.4, which includes enhanced per-application analytics and improved declarative API capabilities to simplify deployment, configuration, and monitoring for NGINX Plus, an all-in-one load balancer, content cache and web server. F5 first launched NGINX Controller in January.

The new and updated solutions are "loosely coupled "so they can work together, but also can work independently and allow customers to create a best-of-breed approach to managing their complex environments, Patel said.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, F5 has seen an uptick in demand for its services, considering the firm specializes in helping businesses scale their operations and ensuring strong application performance, Patel said.

"The world, almost right away, moved to digital interactions. Those interactions, whether they are meetings or increased use of online collaboration tools, exploded overnight. F5 is going to be first and foremost helping companies solve for those challenges," he said.

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