Published on behalf of Andrew Hendry

Instagram is obviously a hugely popular app. The key to Instagram’s success is that everyday users can easily use its high-quality filters to instantly turn what may be otherwise run-of-the-mill snapshots into near-professional photos and high quality artwork – and then share them with the world with a single click.  No need for training classes or user guides to learn how to create customized effects, and no manual time-consuming process to transform those photos either.  Using Instagram – and feeling that power – can give you delusions of grandeur.

For many IT staff and developers, building applications, configuring apps, and deploying them into cloud environments can feel like manually editing photos. There can be lots of complicated steps to follow, different configurations depending on the particular apps, and differences across cloud providers.  In fact, our own Lori MacVittie found from a recent NetToCode survey that over 50% of NetOps deploys minor app configuration changes at least once per day and another 38% deploys between 1-5 times per month into production environments.  At F5, however, we have been working to build tools that will simplify and speed up your application deployments, and make those applications in the cloud better. 

These tools are cloud solution templates. We’re excited to announce that F5 has now released a sizable number of free and easily accessible templates on F5’s GitHub Repository that apply to a number of use cases and are consistent across clouds, so that if you were considering to utilize multiple clouds, you can deploy identical services in each. These templates have all been developed by F5 engineers.  F5 put these templates on GitHub because many NetOps as well as DevOps teams are now using GitHub to manage changes to the network – in fact, in that same NetToCode survey, the number for NetOps is close to 50%.

Within the repository, each cloud provider has their own sub-repository, containing two primary folders; F5_supported or F5_experimental. Templates located in the f5_supported directory are fully supported by F5, meaning they have been tried and tested by F5 engineers, permitting customers to receive assistance from F5 technical support, if required. On the other hand, those in the f5_experimental directory have not been extensively tested, may be subject to change, and are subsequently not yet supported by F5.

For the public cloud, F5 has developed:

  • CloudFormation Templates for Amazon AWS
  • Azure Resource Manager Templates for Microsoft Azure

These open-source solution templates can be deployed automatically or manually, essentially laying down the necessary virtual infrastructure, from VPCs and subnets, to the basic configuration of BIG-IP instances – all with the simple click of a button. For each template, a fully functioning stack is configured, which can be operated as-is, or customized further to better define the individual configuration settings your applications require, providing greater flexibility as you move towards a fully automated cloud infrastructure.

As an example, say you were planning to configure a standalone BIG-IP VE with a single NIC, on an hourly payment plan? We have a template for that to get you started. You later realize that you want to experiment with the improved availability associated with clustering 2 BIG-IP’s in separate availability zones, each with 2 NICs, and again on an hourly payment plan. We have a template for that too! Then, let’s say a couple of months down the line you come to the realization that your BIG-IP arrangement is perfect for your application, but from a business case standpoint, it is less economically viable to operate on a ‘per hour’ basis, and you’re ready to commit to your own BIG-IP VE license. Surprise, surprise, we have an identical template that operates under the BYOL (Bring Your Own License) deployment option.

The point is, F5 has made it incredibly simple to explore the benefits and flexibility of our application delivery and security services in the cloud, without devoting hours or days to understanding the ins and outs of deploying BIG-IPs. And with similar solution templates available in different cloud environments, you can deliver consistent policies and services to all of your apps, regardless of where you choose to deploy them.

Recently, F5 announced support for Pay-As-You-Go utility billing in Microsoft Azure (PAYG also available in Amazon AWS), meaning you’re no longer committed to larger CapEx payment models and only pay for what you use when deploying F5 products and solutions in these environments. Pairing this deployment option with these solution templates provides added flexibility when testing and developing applications in the public cloud.

Additionally, combining cloud solution templates with F5’s brand new 90-day VE free trial, it’s never been easier to try out some of the newest versions of BIG-IP, as well as the most current version of BIG-IQ. With such a lengthy trial period, you are permitted the time necessary to get familiar, and experiment with F5’s market-leading application delivery and security solutions.

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About the Author

Guest author Andrew Hendry is a Sr Manager of Product Marketing at F5 Networks, where he leads a product marketing team focused on the ADC, Cloud, and Management/Orchestration products. You can find more of Andrew's contributions on his DevCentral Profile.