The application landscape is changing rapidly, with cloud-native applications such as containers being developed and deployed to take advantage of the benefits that a distributed cloud environment provides. Ovum’s infrastructure software forecast 2017–2022 for container management platforms predicts a CAGR of nearly 34% by 2022. This increase is in response to the growth in applications expected over this period. It was therefore no surprise when F5 announced it has agreed to pay $670m in cash for Nginx.
The need to manage business-critical applications in the cloud requires IT to be able to control the many different variables that affect performance and security. While cloud providers have tools that can help organizational IT departments ensure that the applications are secure and performing to meet expectations, these are supplier-specific and can lead to lock-in. As organizations look to adopt multicloud strategies, customers need an "open" approach to the management and deployment of applications if the true value of cloud is to be realized, including the freedom of workloads to be moved and managed in a single consistent way.
The rise of cloud-native applications has been led by developers, and has spawned an entirely new set of tools, processes, and solutions to develop, deploy, and manage these applications. The challenge for operational teams, and the DevOps process, is that these new tools and processes need to be linked to current operational tools and processes. For example, traditional application delivery controllers (ADCs) have evolved from point products based on purpose-built hardware appliances to systems that provide an architectural framework for application services delivery. However, F5 can currently only provide a platform that serves the needs of network management and operational teams (application management, application security, and infrastructure security) and does not extend to DevOps teams or developers.
The new architectural models share many of the same abstraction and virtualization concepts as emerging SDN and NFV architectures. Nginx created an open source web server and reverse proxy that provides scalability with performance for all applications. The Nginx offering is a software solution that comes with a small footprint of less than 5MB. There are two versions of Nginx: open source Nginx, and Nginx Plus sold by Nginx.
F5 now has a complete application delivery and management platform that can span the entire range of application architectures to enable them to be more effectively managed. F5 will have the ability to provide a platform that extends from the application developer through to the application user.
On the Radar: Nginx offers application delivery controller for the cloud era, IT0022-000872 (January 2017)
Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions