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Circumvent iSeries Supply Chain Delays: Five reasons to Switch to BIG-IP Virtual Edition

Tom Atkins 缩略图
Tom Atkins
Published March 15, 2022
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Accelerated digital transformation initiatives coupled with a ferocious desire to drive competitive differentiation has placed increasing pressure on application teams to deliver apps to market faster than ever before. At a time when speed is of the essence however, IT organizations are increasingly being hampered by lengthening component lead times brought about by the global semiconductor shortage – much to the frustration of developers.

Up until recently F5 had been relatively unscathed by the current state of affairs thanks to careful supply chain management, though strong demand for physical appliances and the unrelenting chip shortage is now beginning to extend delivery timelines for BIG-IP iSeries platforms. Fortunately, an alternative solution exists that is not at the mercy of global supply chains and can help expedite application deployment timelines – the BIG-IP Virtual Edition (VE). If you’re currently considering an iSeries purchase for a time-sensitive project and have concerns over lead times, consider the following five reasons to instead transition to a BIG-IP VE.

Complete Use Case & Feature Parity

Data Center Diagram
Replicate iSeries application services and policies on BIG-IP Virtual Edition

At its core the BIG-IP VE comprises the same software (BIG-IP TMOS) that runs atop iSeries appliances and all other BIG-IP platforms, permitting the exact same suite of use cases and capabilities to be employed across form factors. Offering everything from advanced application security and access control to intelligent local and global traffic management, the BIG-IP VE provides a viable substitute for iSeries across all use cases. An added benefit of this uniformity is that configurations and policies can be easily replicated across instances – which may be particularly useful when expanding, refreshing, or migrating an existing BIG-IP fleet. As an example, if your strategy includes adoption of public cloud infrastructure then shifting to BIG-IP VE today will empower you to reuse the same application services you’re familiar with, while preventing the need to learn new platform-native tooling.

Comparable Performance

There remains the common misconception that BIG-IP Virtual Editions running on common-off-the-shelf (COTS) servers are unable to reach similar performance levels as purpose-built hardware. While this may have been true years ago, this is certainly no longer the case. In fact, under the right conditions, a single BIG-IP VE instance is now able to process north of 100Gbps of application traffic, allowing it to match all but the highest performing BIG-IP appliances. This is made possible via several BIG-IP VE developments and integrations which include:

  • Availability of High Performance BIG-IP VE’s – Unthrottled VE instances without throughput limitations and capped only by the number of vCPU’s that can power the instance.
  • Custom NIC Drivers that Optimize SR-IOV – Specially developed VE drivers for a range of high-performance Network Interface Cards (NIC) which helps achieve significantly greater performance when using Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV)
  • Hardware offload accelerators – Integrations with high performance components (Intel QAT and an Intel SmartNIC) that are compatible with COTS servers and can be used to offload compute intensive functions like cryptographic processing, DDoS protection and CGNAT.

Still skeptical? Read the BIG-IP VE datasheet for insights into the performance BIG-IP VE can deliver today, or take a look at this blog which details the performance enhancements made within BIG-IP VE.

Accelerated Procurement & Flexible Licensing

Unlike physical appliances, BIG-IP VE licenses have no associated supply chain, manufacturing, or shipping dependencies. Put simply, VE’s can be operationalized on the same day as your purchase – helping trim your deployment timeline from weeks to hours. Going one step further, if consumed via F5’s Flexible Consumption Program (FCP) or Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) licensing models, this time can be cut to a matter of minutes. Since these licensing models enable self-service license procurement there’s no need to engage an F5 sales representative; allowing you to obtain whichever VE license is needed, whenever you need it.

'But what if I don’t have the infrastructure needed to run a BIG-IP VE?’ I hear you say. After all, server vendors are experiencing many of the same supply chain challenges, resulting in dizzying lead times. Fortunately, if your IT policy and architecture supports it, VE’s can be easily deployed on the thousands of surplus servers available within public cloud and colocation facilities worldwide - as we’ll discuss next.

Distributed Cloud Freedom

With the cloud strategies of most organizations in a state of constant flux, future-proofing investments by standardizing on transferable, environment-agnostic solutions wherever possible is critical. Regardless of whether your organization has fully embraced and adopted the cloud or is yet to embark on its cloud journey, switching to BIG-IP VE will grant unparalleled distributed cloud freedom going forward. Boasting the broadest array of supported public and private clouds of any virtual application delivery controller (vADC) on the market, BIG-IP VE’s can be deployed in a repeatable architecture in almost any environment while offering a consistent suite of application services. Whichever cloud your developers decide is best-equipped to build your next app or deliver the best user-experience, with BIG-IP VE in your arsenal you can quickly and easily implement the advanced app services their workloads depend on.

Beyond the many supported cloud environments, F5’s colocation partner network also stretches far and wide; enabling you to mitigate server vendor delays and deploy BIG-IP VE’s quickly on readily-available infrastructure globally. As an example, BIG-IP VE’s can be spun up on thousands of Equinix Metal (dedicated Equinix bare metal instances available as-a-service) instances in less than an hour, helping accelerate deployment timelines while making use of Equinix’ low-latency, high performance network. See for yourself how quickly BIG-IP VE can be deployed on Equinix Metal infrastructure in this demonstration.

Simplified Migration

Since the introduction of F5’s Journeys Migration Utility, moving from an existing BIG-IP appliance to a BIG-IP VE has never been easier. Free, open-source and readily available on F5’s DevCentral GitHub repository, F5’s Journeys tool can streamline migrations by converting configuration files from existing BIG-IP instances into files that are compatible with the BIG-IP VE being deployed. Not only does this tool eliminate the laborious process of migrating configurations manually, it also greatly reduces the time taken to transition; helping you trim your deployment time further. Stay tuned for more information as we’ll dive deeper into how the Journeys tool works and how you can get started using it in an upcoming blog.

To conclude, the BIG-IP Virtual Edition can be considered a viable iSeries replacement in the majority of cases; offering an equivalent feature set, comparable performance and enhanced deployment freedom. If you’re in the midst of a time-critical project that is dependent on delivery of BIG-IP iSeries appliances, please reach out to your F5 account manager or contact an F5 sales representative to discuss how a BIG-IP Virtual Edition may be able to meet your requirements in a more timely manner. 

Conclusion

The BIG-IP Virtual Edition can be considered a viable iSeries replacement in the majority of cases; offering an equivalent feature set, comparable performance and enhanced deployment freedom. If you’re in the midst of a time-critical project that is dependent on delivery of BIG-IP iSeries appliances, please reach out to your F5 account manager or contact an F5 sales representative to discuss how a BIG-IP Virtual Edition may be able to meet your requirements in a more timely manner.