First, if you haven’t read “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami, you should.

However, if a running memoir by a surrealistic Japanese writer isn’t your thing and you like to talk about computers, then maybe read on.

As I’m sure I’ve said before, I really like attending shows with F5. We have great products and even better customers and I get to wave my arms about have great conversations with people about ‘stuff’. I love getting into their problems and working through solutions with them.

But there is one question I’ve come to fear. Especially from an engineer or other technical person. They will amble casually up to the stand, maybe grab some literature and the obligatory squishy ball and then fix me with an innocent gaze and  launch their devastating question:

“So, what do F5 do?”

As a company spokesperson and marketing professional I’ve got this covered, right? I can give some beautiful  pitch about innovative services that boost ROI, help you meet compliance standards and lower OPEX. Of course, no problems. The trouble is, while this is completely true, we actually do all this cool stuff, I’ve also filled in every square on a savvy show visitor’s B.S. bingo card. And worse, I’ve probably failed to answer the question they were asking me. 

Maybe I should talk them through all the features and functions, after all we only have seven plus software modules, each with hundreds fo features. And I’m sure they have thirty minutes or so to spare. Ooh, I could talk about our programmability features and integration with automation and SDN tools. Perhaps add in a bit about iHealth and services.

Oh, where did they go?

It’s taken a while (I am, as my wife will attest, a slow learner)  but I think I’ve finally nailed the answer:

“We make a lightning fast, programmable, application proxy. That means that clients connect to us, and then we connect to application servers. In the gap we create in the middle, you have complete control of the application traffic. Any protocol or application. We see all the traffic in both directions. What can you do with this? Anything you like – but we have created some software modules that bundle functionality together – network firewall, user authentication and access, traffic management – like load balancing, rate shaping or optimization. Best of all this is all programmable and extensible – easily. All this good stuff is available wherever you need it, datacenter, private cloud, public cloud and as-a-service ”

So, if you drop by our stand at AWS re:Invent (booth 830), come test my answer out and see I make any more sense in person than on your screen.