Welcome to F5's new DevCentral resource.

With this site, we are attempting to help our customers and partners facilitate a better way of doing business. That better way of doing business was best reflected recently while I was visiting an F5 customer on Wall Street in New York city. I was pleasantly surprised to find both the network and application teams collaborating around the development and delivery of applications and web services before a single new application or service was written or deployed. Their objective was to use the networks capabilities to make the applications and web services run better and be more secure.

Their motivation for collaboration was simple; through experience they had learned the hard way that developing and deploying code or planning and supporting networks in organizational silos resulted in deployment failures, security holes, availability and performance problems, and maintenance hassles down the road. They simply got tired of the finger pointing, inflexible architectures, and unmet customer expectations.

We've all worked in environments like this before; it's where applications or web services get developed and thrown over the wall to the network folks to give users access. It's called plug and pray, it rarely works, and frequently comes with costly results. Is it no wonder why users and management complain about IT being more of an obstacle than an enabler of business success?

My scheduled one hour meeting with this customer turned into a dynamic two and a half hour session where ten extremely bright people were filled with the energy that they were on to something significant. The application team was learning the capabilities of their F5 network and how best to leverage the security features, high availability, QoS, and the virtualization functions. This would make the application team's life easier; these were functions that they wouldn't have to code into the services themselves except to communicate with or configure the network to dynamically support those same applications and services.

This will also have the added benefit of centralizing these functions which can be standardized against for future deployments. Likewise, the network team was learning the intricasies of the applications and services. They were understanding what type of fault tolerance, connection handling, load-balancing, and wide area networking elements would need to be provisioned and configured to successfully support the applications and services.

Like this integrated team, I left the meeting feeling energized. Based on what I witnessed and my own past experience, I have no doubt that they will be successful.

This experience was not an isolated case and is reflective of a growing movement and the motivation and intent for this site. In order to scale and encourage this type of collaboration we had to introduce something that could facilitate and educate both application developers and network professionals on what integration benefits exist and how to use them to their advantage.

To date, out of F5's 5000+ customers, we know of approximately 120 unique production implementations where they have utilized both the F5 Network and iControl API for integration of the network, applications, and / or web services to achieve simplifed management, high availability, better security, and flexible scale. The problem has been that we've had no way to effectively share this information with the F5 community at large.

Thus the motivation for this site. It's an opportunity for us, our customers, and partners to share best practices, tips, code samples, and the lessons we've all learned about integrating applications and web services with the underlying F5 network.

This is a free service and is not an alternative to standard F5 technical support or consulting services. The site has an informally moderated forum centered around the API and SDK, integration and development configuration tips, and insights from our own developers and network professionals.

More importantly though, it's a site where we hope collaboration and sharing among all will take place. This is a small first step, but like the customer I've just been writing about, it's a step in the right direction.