Well, today marks year number 7 for me here at F5 Networks. 1998 seems so long ago and F5 has changed so much in those years. I was going to include an image of Seven of Nine in this post but didn't want to imply that I would only be here for 2 more years B-).

Anyway, here's my trip down F5 Memory lane:

  • bigconfig - this was BIG-IP's first actual GUI. I was actually hired as a Windows developer to build a Win32 based app that could manage the BIG-IP remotely from a Windows machine. I quickly talked our VP of development, who has since moved on, into using a web based management approach. The core for this framework is still intact in the latest 4.x version of BIG-IP.
  • LINK-IT - Before BIG-IP and 3-DNS were able to run side by side on the same platform, they needed a way to communicate with each other. This was before the days of SOAP and WebServices and THE way to communicate across devices on a Unix platform was with CORBA. We currently had a fairly extensive remote library for our internal communications we decided that it would be best for us and our customers if we made this public. So we built a formal SDK, brought in the marketing folks, and whalah... iControl was born. (BTW, I still don't know why iControl is listed as a "Product" on our website when it's a core feature to all our products. The SDK is a product so I guess that it does make sense now that I think about it...)
  • SEE-IT - This was F5's first attempt at a remote management application. I led the team in the design of this windows-based monitoring and management system. We didn't want to go the CORBA route on Windows so we built our own HTTP based XML format. This was before the days of SOAP so we had to bake up our own.
  • iControl - I mentioned above about how LINK-IT turned into iControl. Well, version 1.0 of the SDK that supported only CORBA wasn't met with much demand from our customers. Mainly, I believe, this was due to the fact that our customer base were mainly network admins who didn't have strong coding backgrounds. We took this as a hint that we needed a simpler model to allow our customers to make our "Application Aware Network" a reality. We introduced our first XML based API support on October 5, 2001 which was before the whole SOAP thing really took off. I think we made a good choice as SOAP is now the defacto standard for XML remote management. Now without restricting the developers into a specific ORB, we could support any of the languages out there that had SOAP toolkits (well over 50 to date). Perl allowed the network admins to build dynamic "scripts". .NET and Java allowed the web developers to integrate into their existing web applications. This really opened up many new doors for our customers, and as a consequence, brought the "application developers" into our new list of customers.
  • BIG-IP - Through the years, I've assisted on many features (mostly management based) on the BIG-IP products. I've been a part of every release from 2.0 up to 9.0.5. It's been simply amazing to see this product mature and grow.
  • DevCentral - With the SDK, we saw a need for our new customers, the "application developers", to have an alternate support channel away from the standard phone support. Jeff B and I started a grass-roots effort within the development organization to build a community site where our users could interact directly with the developers in such a manner that the developers could still make their schedules and not become an extension to the support organization. Originally, since our SDK included support for java and .NET development environments, as well as perl, we foresaw questions regarding development environments and the such that did not fall into the product support policy. Despite being free, we wanted to support and enhance the iControl community as best we could. I envisioned a community where users got together and shared ideas and thoughts about how they would apply iControl into their own networks. Late last year, we also added iRules support to coincide with version 9.0 of BIG-IP. This included a brand-spanking new rules language that we saw would kick the pants off of anyone else out there. This strengthened our user base and we are now over 3500 registered users and growning!
  • Side projects - I worked and advised on many, many side products that I won't mention here. Some because they are fairly boring, some because I can't.
  • Misc - Other items of note: 3 F5 buildings, 3 bosses, 3 houses, 2 kids (to make a nice rounded total of 3), 3 laptops. Geez, there are a lot of 3's in there aren't there...

What a great ride this has been and I can't wait for the next 7 years.

-Joe