IT Management via the Virtural Appliance

Arthur Cole spoke with Henry Tam, product marketing manager for F5 Networks, about traditional hardware appliance platforms versus virtual-appliance-based platforms.

It makes sense that as the rest of the enterprise converts to virtual/cloud operations, that management platforms should as well. That’s why we’re seeing a host of appliance-based platforms that are expanding to include virtual appliance configurations. The most recent is F5 Networks, which now offers its Enterprise Manager 4000 as a virtual appliance. While product manager Henry Tam says it provides added flexibility for increasingly dynamic environments, there are still some strong reasons why some users should stick with a traditional hardware appliance.

“… Enterprise Manager VE provides a flexible management platform that enables them [organizations] to manage multiple physical or virtual ADC devices.”

Henry Tam
Product Marketing Manager
F5 Networks

Cole: I see that the latest version of the F5 Enterprise Manager is available as a virtual appliance. What advantages does this bring to the enterprise, particularly when it comes to managing hybrid environments?

Tam: The virtual appliance offering of F5 Enterprise Manager, Enterprise Manager VE, has exactly the same feature set as the physical appliance, F5 Enterprise Manager 4000. However, customers now have a solution that better aligns with the virtualized data center and the way IT manages their other infrastructure solutions. The advantages of the Enterprise Manager VE is the flexibility of deployment that it offers. Customers now have the option to allocate more memory, CPU and storage to maximize performance and capacity.

Cole: Is there any reason, then, why someone would want to maintain application management, or any kind of management, on a standard hardware configuration? It seems the cost advantages alone are difficult to pass up.

Tam: From an operations point of view, simplifying potential issues is important. In some cases, customers prefer to have single vendor accountability and reduce the complexity of troubleshooting by working with one vendor.  For other customers, F5 Enterprise Manager is managed by the network operations group that doesn’t necessarily have a hypervisor such as VMware available. In this situation, it is much easier to deploy the Enterprise Manager 4000 than the Enterprise Manager VE.

Cole: Does the virtual appliance model hold any advantages when it comes to managing the cloud? As data environments become more flexible, shouldn’t the management layer be able to adapt and respond to changing conditions as well?

Tam: Whether organizations are managing their F5 application delivery infrastructure solutions within the corporate firewall or off premises as part of a managed service or cloud solution, the advantage is the same – Enterprise Manager VE provides a flexible management platform that enables them to manage multiple physical or virtual ADC devices. Enterprises and cloud providers can reduce upfront costs, enable faster deployments and save space in their data centers.

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