#f5 There’s a new brand of Chili in town.

I don’t usually talk a lot about F5 specific solutions, but since we’re the only ones doing this (so far), the contents of this blog are F5 specific. Though this needs to be industry standard.

So, you’re yearning for some chili. That’s understandable, this time of year is when those of us from the US midwest think of chili, because it’s good hunting season food, and it both fills you and warms you up.

So grab a handful of hamburger and stuff it in your mouth, then grab a handful of dried kidney beans and stuff those in there too, no, don’t worry, we’re about to get to the cayenne pepper…

No? Okay, okay, you want it to actually be mixed before it gets to your stomach. I suppose that’s understandable too. So toss a bunch of hamburger into a pot, throw in some dried kidney beans – don’t forget the water – some chili powder, some cayenne pepper, whatever other spices you like, some tomato sauce, that’ll about do it. Got all of that? Okay, so next you cook it. In all that  other stuff, it’ll take a good long while for the hamburger to cook, but since we didn’t soak the beans, they’ll need a good long while anyway… What? That’s not it either?

Okay then, last try. Brown up some hamburger, drain off the grease (or Juice as one of my best friends complains at this step), pour in some canned (or pre-soaked) kidney beans, some tomato sauce, some spices, and cook it up. What? Still not detailed enough? But I told  you what to put into it, weren’t you reading?

Oh heck, go to your nearest chili joint and just buy some. In Green Bay we go to Chili Johns. In Cincinnati it’s Skyline chili. But where ever, place the order and get well-made chili. I don’t have to tell you all of the steps, you don’t have to get worked up about grey areas in the directions, you get tasty chili, I can go get some too.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that’s how it worked, and you didn’t have to pay for it?

Now consider that you’re deploying your application behind an ADC.

First you configure the Virtual IP, then you create a pool to service the Virtual IP, then you add nodes to the pool… What?

I know. That’s been a problem with ADCs for a good long while. Lots of steps, all necessary, all with room for miscommunication or error. Not anymore.

I’ll borrow a picture from coworker Karen Jester’s blog to illustrate the point:

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There’s more at the link to her blog above (click on her name), but the point is relatively simple. It used to be that you had to configure each of the networking/load balancing/security/app delivery/et cetera. elements of an application deployment separately. Notice in this screenshot that the questions are about the application and your deployment of it, not about nodes and pools. We have some excellent deployment guides, but they run to many pages, and since you’re copying information from a book or PDF, missing steps is possible.

With iApps, that is no longer the case. iApps take an application-centric view of network resources. In essence, they’re Skyline Chili, but you don’t have to pay for them. They come free in V.11. And they know your apps. So if you need to deploy Exchange behind a BIG-IP, open the Exchange version X template, and fill in the few questions. Next thing you know, you’re running an ADC configuration with your requirements considered. No more individual items to configure. And you can modify the configuration at a later date to adapt to changes in your environment.

Of course, if you’re an expert, you can still configure the individual elements, but if you want to utilize the power of an ADC, but don’t have time to go through each and every step in a deployment guide, now with knowledge of your application, you can get it running – secure, fast, and available – in short order. For those applications we don’t have a template for yet, you can build one, download one developed by a peer from F5 DevCentral, or configure the objects individually using one of our deployment guides.

If you don’t already, I’d recommend reading Karen’s blog. She’s wicked smart, and in a location that gives her insight into F5 gear.

And yes, I’d love to talk about how other vendors are turning app delivery into an application-focused tool, since in the end it is all about delivery of applications. But until they do, I’ll just keep telling you how cool iApps are.

Oh and did I mention they give you an astounding look into overall application performance across the network? Yes, they do that too. It’s like the cheese on top of a bowl of Skyline Chili.