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ABCs of ADCs with F5 Networks

May 06, 2022

ABCs of ADCs with F5 Networks
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What are application delivery controllers and how have they evolved in the hands of F5 Networks?
Shelby Skrhak speaks with Rodney Newton, a technology consultant focused on application and delivery at Ingram Micro, about:
  • Application delivery controllers (ADCs)
  • How ADCs have evolved
  • F5’s solutions and products

Application delivery controllers

Application delivery controllers, or ADCs, are hardware devices or software that act as middleware to connect users to an application quickly and securely.
“Ultimately, it's something that the industry uses to make sure that applications are serving up the content that they're supposed to be serving,” Rodney says. “It can provide security, like web application firewall features. It can provide basic load balancing. It can do a lot of different things.”

Evolution of ADCs

ADCs started out as load balancers. In the mid-to-late 90s, these load balancers were necessary to distribute load evenly across the back end.
Fast forward a few years.
F5 Networks decides they can add a lot more functionality to this layer of the network. So, they introduce security functions and features like Identity Aware.
“That was a paradigm shift from being just straight load balancing and providing those functions to providing a much higher level of functions all the way up the stack to layers four through seven,” Rodney says.
In other words, F5 laid the groundwork for what ADCs have become.

F5’s solutions and products

F5 innovated in a number of different ways:
  • They dreamed up the idea of cookie persistence.
  • They introduced new ideas around SSL termination and offload.
 And when the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s, F5 shifted from focusing on big web properties to focusing on use cases for mission-critical applications—applications in enterprise banking, CRM and healthcare.
“They completely redesigned and re-architected their solution going from this proprietary code running on FreeBSD to a purpose-built hardware platform running a real-time operating system called TMOSS,” Rodney says. “This is where they became a full proxy.”
The flexibility of the solution is one of its biggest strengths. It can work for highly sophisticated customers looking to accomplish complex use cases, but it can also work for someone who is simply looking for a web application firewall.
According to Rodney, it all comes back to how they built it.
“Because of the way they built that platform, because of the open-endedness of it, because of the speed at which they're able to do things, you're able to script in just about any use case that you want to on the equipment.”
Email Rodney or visit F5 Networks for more information.
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