We are signing up to be part of a couple of beta programs here at F5 - something that one of us will blog more about in the next week or so - but part of the process was, unsurprisingly , us getting a handle on what the products could do for DevCentral. The cool thing about being who we are is that we found out tidbits that we can share with you, and we'll be doing that when the timing is good.

The thing we saw that I thought was the absolute coolest was a feature of WebAccelerator. We at DevCentral have traditionally championed unfettered sharing of text-based items that are part of the configuration of the box - policies for all products and iRules for LTM. That's not always a popular choice with our VARs and resellers. They don't want to develop a snippet for a customer under contract and then have to worry about finding it in the WebAccelerator section of CodeShare the next week. This is a wholly understandable position, and it is one that has somewhat limited their participation here at DevCentral. Some of our users are the same way - they would share what they develop, but don't want to give away their hard work. While I'm against this second mentality personally, I've worked at enough organizations to know that some have policies to address just that kind of sharing.

The WebAccelerator team has addressed this issue while not changing what the bulk of us do on a daily basis. They have provided a mechanism to encrypt and sign WebAccelerator Policies. That allows those who, for whatever reason, aren't willing to share the text of their Policies with the world, but are willing to share solutions. It also allows consultants, VARs, and resellers to add value without having to give away their "secret sauce".

Since this is not a required usage - you can still generate policies the way you always have, if you're part of the community and believe in the mass sharing we've been participating in for years - it is an added feature that should pull more activity in around WebAccelerator. More people participating in the community is great as far as I'm concerned, it means more and more timely answers on the forums, and more sharing of ideas while those who have a business need to protect their products receive a mechanism to do so.

We've got our share of work to do around this new feature here on DevCentral - if you're going to accept policies that you can't read, you're going to have to have a way to trust the organization or individual providing them, for example. And this version of WebAccelerator is still in Beta, so it's not generally available to you yet (though you too could apply for the Beta program), but we're excited about the possibilities. It is our hope and belief that this will charge the conversations around WebAccelerator here on DevCentral because it will open discussions to a new group of users.

You'll definitely be hearing more from us about WebAccelerator and the WebAccelerator Beta program in the coming months, we've got a critical business need for it in some theaters of operations, and we're going to take you along for the evaluation and implementation phases. But I won't steal the thunder on that topic, watch for the blog post defining what we're trying to do.


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