F5 in Container Environments: BIG-IP and Beyond

Container systems like Docker are cool.
From some tinkerer like me who loves to be able to create a working webserver with a single command and have it run anywhere, to serious compute projects using Docker integrated with tools like Jenkins and GitHub allowing developers to write code then build, test and deploy it automatically while they get on with the next revision, Docker has become a  an overnight (OK, well, three year) success story.
But the magic word there is integrated.
Because what turns a cool container technology from an interesting tool to a central part of your IT infrastructure is the ability to take the value it brings (in this case light weight, fast, run anywhere execution environments) and make it work effectively with other parts of the environment. To become a credible platform for enterprise IT, we need tools to orchestrate the lifecycle of containers and to manage features  such as high availability and scheduling. Luckily we’re now well supplied with tools like Mesos Marathon, Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, and a host of others.
You also need rest of the infrastructure to be as agile and integrated as the container management system. When you have the ability to spin up applications on demand, in seconds, you want the systems that manage application traffic to be part of the process, tightly coupled with the systems that are creating the applications and services. 
Which is where F5 comes in. We are committed to building services that integrate with the tools that you use to manage the rest of your environment, so that you can rely on F5 to be protecting, accelerating and managing your application traffic with the  same flexibility and agility that you need elsewhere.
Our vision is of an architecture where F5 components subscribe to events from container management systems, then create the right application delivery services in the right place  to service traffic to the new containers. This might be something simple, such as just adding a new container to an existing pool. It might mean creating a whole new configuration for a new application or service, with the right levels of security and control.
It might even mean deploying a whole new platform to perform these services.  Maybe it will deploy a BIG-IP Virtual Edition with all the features and functions you expect from F5. But perhaps we need something new.  A lighter weight platform that can deal well with East-West traffic in a micro services environment – while a BIG-IP is managing the North-South client traffic and defending the perimeter?
f you think this sounds interesting, then I’d encourage you to watch this space.
If you think it sounds really interesting and you will be at Dockercon in Seattle during the week of June 20th you should head to an evening panel discussion hosted by our friends at Skytap on June 21 where F5’er Shawn Wormke will be able to tell you (a little) more.
Published Jun 14, 2016
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