An analyst friend of mine recently asked about F5's Application Ready Networks. The question was, "Isn't that just a bunch of templates?"

Now it's true that this particular analyst friend is not an application analyst, so the question was a good one coming from his background, but it got me to thinking that if he was confused, maybe others were as well.

So what's an Application Ready Network anyway?

F5 has a long history of deep strategic partnerships with application vendors like Oracle, BEA, Microsoft, and SAP. Through these partnerships, and F5's comprehensive technology center in Seattle, our engineers have deployed, configured, tested, and retested myriad deployment configurations comprising F5 solutions in conjunction with applications from these partners like SharePoint, Exchange, PeopleSoft, and SAP's eSOA.

Out of that testing - which takes a long time, mind you - come not only "templates" for F5 products like WebAccelerator, Local Traffic Manager, and Application Security Manager, but also detailed deployment and configuration guides that make it easy for customers to set up an application delivery network specifically designed to optimize, secure, and accelerate these applications.

The templates - we call them policies - make it simple to optimally configure F5 products for a specific application. If you're setting up a Microsoft SharePoint installation, for example, you can choose the "SharePoint" policy within F5 BIG-IP WebAccelerator and expect that all the appropriate knobs and buttons have been configured to improve the performance and availability of that installation - without requiring that you do anything more. Deploying Microsoft OWA (Outlook Web Access)? F5's Application Ready Network can help, and F5's BIG-IP Application Security Manager has a "template" specifically for OWA that secures the application and prevents all those potential nasty web vulnerabilities from reaching your OWA installation.

The deployment and configuration guides give network and systems' administrators a step-by-step guide to deploying all the F5 products that make up the Application Ready Network for that application, which saves time and effort and gets the network - and application - up and running optimally as soon as possible. No tweaks necessary - our engineers have already done the dirty work and figured out what works best for that application. When you're finished, you have a network that is ready to delivery your application in the most optimal manner possible.

So to answer the question, an F5 Application Ready Network is really a lot more than just a bunch of "templates". An F5 Application Ready Network is like having a team of F5 engineers in your back pocket.

Or, in the words of the scrubbing bubbles, we worked hard so you don't have to.

Imbibing: Water