F5 Adds New Features to BIG-IP 12.1

Security, visibility and workflow technologies get enhanced in latest update of F5 core software platform.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 18, 2016
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F5 is updating its BIG-IP software to version 12.1. The long list of new features includes an Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE) plug-in, updated security policies and a new workflow technology.

Nathan Pearce, Product Development Solution Architect at F5, explained that F5 started developing orchestration and integration features and services as part of BIG-IQ. The F5 BIG-IQ product line was first announced in 2013 as a new management platform.

"We have since split this functionality out, added considerably more extensibility/programmability to it, and announced it today as iWorkflow," Pearce told Enterprise Networking Planet. "Unlike traditional device management systems, iWorkflow is policy centric and presents an integration point for both Management and Orchestrations systems, including SDN controllers."

The iWorkflow technology shouldn't be confused with a first generation Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology either. Lori MacVittie, Principal Technical Evangelist at F5, explained that classical SDN is concerned with stateless networking at L2-4, as can be noted by the OpenFlow specification, which is primarily focused on managing traffic to/from/between ports in an IP network. Additional functionality can be added programmatically, but is still limited to managing stateless traffic.

"Because there are a multitude of stateful networking services (L4-7) that also need to be provisioned and managed dynamically, there’s a need for solutions capable of handling that task," MacVittie said. "iWorkflow is designed to enable those more comprehensive, 'full stack' SDN architectures to include L4-7 in a programmatic, agile manner consistent with the founding principles behind classic SDN – that of agility, cost efficiency, and flexibility."

On the security front, the updated BIG-IP Application Security Manager (ASM), provided improved bot detection methods and is now able to blacklist malicious IP faster than previous iterations. The BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager has also been enhanced with additional capabilities to automatically mitigate L3–7 attacks.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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