F5 announced today the release of the new F5 Management Pack for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 (sorry, wish I had an acronym or shorter name but a product this cool needs a big name like that :). In a nutshell, this new management pack extends the technology integration between Microsoft and F5 and will allow System Center users and F5 customers to:

  1. Monitor the status of F5 devices and the entire Application Delivery Networking infrastructure as one unit, including application health, network statistics, and application traffic resource availability.
  2. Integrate the Application Delivery Network and the back-end systems into one management piece, so application and systems can be managed together.
  3. Automate application and network remediations as systems and Hyper-V events occur in the data center.
  4. Provision new application delivery resources when new services, such as Hyper-V instances hosting applications, are spun up by System Center.

The System Center Operations Manager architecture allows partners to write their own plug-ins, Management Packs, and integrate those into the entire System Center family. F5 was able to easily adapt to the System Center environment by relying on iControl, the open management API used across all BIG-IP products for both monitoring and managing the devices. When two cleanly written, highly functional APIs come together…let the provisioning begin. :) Let’s look at an scenario:

  • The System Center family of products manages both physical systems, such as application servers and F5 BIG-IP devices, as well as Hyper-V virtual systems with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Let’s say System Center is managing an Application Delivery Network of Sharepoint web and search services running on both physical and virtual systems.
  • All Sharpoint application traffic is routed bi-directionally through F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM).
  • Over the weekend, demand for Sharepoint is low and services have been spun down via System Center to conserve resources. At 8:00 AM on Monday morning, however, there is a spike in traffic as application requests ramp up for the work day.
  • Traditionally, System Center would provision new back-end services to handle the spike: Hyper-V or physical server instances, Sharepoint apps and clusters, etc. This was a great first step for provisioning but required F5 BIG-IP LTM to be pre-configured to handle the max capacity (ie the Sharepoint pools had to be pre-populated), nullifying the benefits of elastic computing on the ADN.
  • Now, with the F5 Management Pack, System Center can provision new services on F5 BIG-IP as well. As new services are spun up in the back-end of the data center, new application delivery services can be spun up at the same time in the front-end of the data center.
  • When demand decreases, say on Friday at 6:00 PM, those same services can be de-provisioned on both the back-end servers and the front-end application network with F5 BIG-IP.

And that’s provisioning. In addition, the F5 Management Pack can relay critical application health and network data back to System Center to help make those critical provisioning decisions. If an application is slow to respond, System Center can now determine if that latency is on the application or the network side and make remediations as needed.

At the end of the day the F5 and System Center management integration makes sense for the applications. All application traffic to the physical and virtualized application serves is running through F5 BIG-IP; management decisions that are made on the back-end have a direct impact on that traffic flow and availability. Now, with the F5 Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager, that application traffic management can happen with the back-end physical and virtual services, treating your Application Delivery Network as a complete delivery system.

And the best part? You can download the F5 Management Pack for System Center 2007 right here on DevCentral. There’s no reason not to drop this in your System Center management platform today and start using it right away.

For more information on how this integration works, watch an example in action of empowering your Application Delivery Network with F5 and Microsoft. Of if you’re at the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) in Las Vegas stop by booth 631 and talk to F5 directly.