December 15, 2017

Now that microservices enabled by containers are finding their way into production environments, IT organizations are discovering that managing contention for IT infrastructure resources is a bigger challenge than ever. To make it easier for IT organizations to manage microservices within the context of an application delivery controller (ADC), F5 Networks has developed a Container Connecter for container management/orchestration systems such as Kubernetes and Mesos/Marathon.

At the same time, F5 Networks is making available a lightweight instance of its Application Services Proxy available as a Docker container. That capability provides a simpler alternative to embedding ADC functionality into an application.

Lori MacVittie, principal technical evangelist for F5 Networks, says support for microservices application is an extension of the company’s multicloud strategy announced last fall. Currently, F5 Networks supports instances of its application delivery software running in local data centers in addition to public clouds from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. In addition, F5 Networks now can be deployed on OpenStack environments running in a local data center or in a cloud.

MacVittie says the major challenge IT organizations face in a multicloud world is being able to consistently implement polices across both legacy and cloud-native applications residing on a diverse range of IT infrastructure platforms. A recent F5 Networks survey of 2,200 IT organizations finds 80 percent of the respondents are committed to multicloud architectures, while 20 percent planning to have half their applications running on public and/or private clouds this year.

Issues that arise from application deployment spanning multiple clouds range from security to a skills gaps that emerges when IT organizations are asked to support multiple platforms. That challenge becomes even more difficult given the ephemeral nature of most container applications. Because of that issue, the F5 Networks Container Connector is designed to listen for events involving containers. That information is then relayed back to the ADC responsible for maintaining policies defined by the IT organization. That approach, she says, cuts down the opportunity for violating a compliance mandate whenever a developer attempts to end-run the IT organization.

MacVittie notes many IT organizations are dealing with the relative immaturity of container technologies in networking. Not only are there no container networking standards in place, functionality such as routing is only now being developed. Many IT organizations, therefore, are contending with rapidly changing container technology in production environments, which makes it difficult for IT organizations to keep pace.

Many IT organizations are facing the challenge of finding a way to extend their existing management tools to support new classes of applications. After all, only a few IT environments will run an all-containerized application environment. But over time, as developers gain more experience, the number of container applications almost certainly will dwarf the number of legacy applications.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.