MWC22: New BIG-IP Native Cloud Networking Features for Service Providers

F5’s way to strengthen, secure and simplify your clouds

Leveraging decades of expertise in high-volume traffic management and security, F5 is investing and building a rigorous portfolio to better support cloud applications. Earlier this month, we announced the F5 distributed cloud platform. Based on technology from F5, Volterra and Shape, it is a powerful and versatile multi-cloud networking solution providing services that can be deployed across distributed clusters to provide end-to-end visibility, policy control and centralized management of distributed applications. Using API-based communication to connect workloads and data, one of the first offerings of this solution platform is Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) for public and private clouds, data centers and edge sites, offering F5 capabilities with global PoPs to help deploy, manage and protect application workloads.

New F5 Cloud-Native Networking Features for Modern Telecom Workloads

We’re also announcing other exciting solutions that will be production-ready this year: BIG-IP Cloud Native Network Functions (CNFs). F5 is committed to supporting a cloud-native approach to building and deploying new applications that are critical to the fundamental changes needed to modernize network and security infrastructures, and also reduce total cost of ownership. In response to customer requests, our team builds BIG-IP CNFs to improve agility and simplify network operations by leveraging a copyless memory architecture for more efficient deployment at scale. The first of the new CNF F5s will focus on security to strengthen and optimize these particularly demanding environments, which require flexible allocation of resources to be scalable, automated, resilient and more manageable.. We’re reducing the software footprint and enabling horizontal scaling that can be natively controlled by Kubernetes, while making that horizontal scaling more robust. For more details, see our F5 CNF presentation. We plan to deploy F5’s new CNFs in both 4G and 5G use cases to support service provider offerings. Additionally, F5 recently produced a webinar with Light Reading, The Time is Now for Cloud-Native, Whether it’s 4G, 5G or both, if you want an overview of our CNF strategy.

These true cloud-native functions are refactored or re-engineered versions of the popular and trusted F5 security functions, but now with the added cloud-native benefits of dynamic elasticity and scale, continuous deployment and automation principles, and a smaller footprint. These CNFs are expected to be generally available in 2022:

  • BIG-IP Edge Firewall CNF (based on F5’s AFM, including DDoS functionality)

  • BIG-IP Policy Enforcer CNF



The key to delivering the dynamic elasticity and efficiency of these CNFs is that they run on the F5 Cloud-Native Engine, which is a visibility, support, and license control framework that works with the platforms. Kubernetes forms, initially on Red Hat OpenShift and Robin. .io, with plans to be agnostic for all platforms. This engine will also support other CNF vendors, but converting and consolidating F5 functions will further optimize overall performance, management and analysis. This operational simplicity in the cloud parallels our mission-critical network service consolidating VNF/CNF over S/Gi-LAN/N6, which we currently provide to more than 60 global telecom customers to facilitate their transition to modern architectures.

Use cases for our new CNF F5s include supporting telecom network functions, IT workloads and managed services: cloud native CaaS/PaaS, vRAN, 5G Core, S/Gi-LAN consolidation/ N6 and edge security.

VELOS platform to scale multi-tenant density in the cloud

Finally, as digital transformation emphasizes virtualization (such as VNFs and CNFs), hardware can make the difference in a service provider’s ability to offer and deliver differentiated multi-tenant services, efficient and in volume. VELOS is our next-generation chassis system for Layers 4 through 7, and can bridge traditional and modern application architectures by supporting a mix of traditional BIG-IP tenants now, as well as BIG-IP tenants from next generation in the future, to unlock the true potential of running on a microservices-based architecture. Read the story of a major telecommunications customer using VELOS to deliver virtual reality (VR) at sporting events, interactive retail displays and ubiquitous data sensors for the IoT. It’s important to recognize that innovative software and hardware both played a part in this service provider’s high-performance solution. With its ability to operate both in the data center/core and at the edge and remote edge, VELOS can play a key role in hardware improvements in service delivery.

Simplify your clouds today

To strengthen, secure and simplify your clouds, F5 distributed cloud services, S/Gi-LAN/N6 consolidation and VELOS appliances are available now. The CNF BIG-IPs will be ready for production in 2022.

James Feger is Vice President and General Manager, Service Provider, F5

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