F5 Brings Application Delivery, Storage To Public, Private Clouds

F5 Networks this week enhanced its ARX software to make it easier for customers to deliver and manage applications in virtual and cloud storage environments.

F5's ARX software, the base on which the company builds appliances for intelligent application delivery, now supports connectivity to public and private storage clouds, said Nigel Burmeister, product marketing director for the Seattle-based company.

ARX is also now available as a virtual appliance for working beyond a customer's data center, and includes a new API to let software vendors and customers add value to their data management applications, Burmeister said.

The ARX enhancements come at a time when customer interest in cloud computing is high and challenges related to moving some operations to the cloud are holding back the technology, Burmeister said.

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"Customers are asking, one, how to identify which data is suitable for the cloud, and two, how can I make sure I can get the data back," he said. "ARX has for some time been answering those questions in a storage-agnostic solution. And customers have been asking for public and private cloud support."

F5 is answering that latest question with new support for third-party gateways to public clouds such as the Iron Mountain VFS (Virtual File Storage) and NetApp's StorageGRID, Burmeister said.

The company also introduced the F5 ARX Cloud Extender, which is software that can be loaded onto a Windows or Linux server which supports object storage and NAS in the cloud, he said. The F5 ARX Cloud Extender is expected to be available sometime this month.

Also new is the F5 iControl files services API, an interface which allows software vendors and customers to interface with ARX to add such capabilities as search index, backup, audit, and quota management to new and existing third-party applications.

Burmeister said that many data management applications such as backup or search need to scan or make a complete tree of all the data being managed, which takes days to weeks to complete.

"With ARX, customers get a device that sees every piece of data," he said. "So if there is any change, the app can query ARX, which then sends the information on the changes to the app, so there is no need to re-scan the data. F5 can't keep up with all the applications out there. So we put the APIs into the hands of the partners."

The new API is currently available with the ARX software.

Next: Helping The Channel Take Apps, Data To Clouds

F5 this week also unveiled ARX VE, or Virtual Edition, a virtual machine version of the ARX appliance, primarily for the purpose of demonstrating the technology.

By making ARX available as a virtual appliance, F5 hopes to increase the awareness of F5's technology, and to expand its market into new parts of the data center, Burmeister said.

"A lot of people don't know there is a different way to manage data," he said. "Getting this functionality into the hands of customers and partners is very important to us."

Dean Darwin, vice president of worldwide channels for F5, said his company works with a wide range of channel partners, particularly those who also work with NetApp.

"We're seeing a blending of storage, networking, and application delivery technologies," Darwin said. "Therefore, our networking VARs and app delivery VARs are starting to do more with our storage."

The new ARX VE provides a way for solution providers to develop applications, demonstrate those applications, and then generate new revenue without the need for investing in an expensive appliance, Darwin said.

With the F5 ARX Cloud Extender, solution providers have a new technology for helping customers move their applications into public and private clouds, he said.