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Azure Stack Support – Expanding F5’s Multi-Cloud Ecosystem

In recent months F5 has continued to beat the drum of its multi-cloud narrative, proclaiming that the majority of companies will be (if they aren’t already) deploying workloads across multiple cloud platforms over the coming years. For the multi-cloud skeptics of you out there, F5’s latest State of Application Delivery report heavily supported this hypothesis, concluding that 87% of respondents were already leveraging multiple clouds, while almost 60% reported that they actively used between two and six different providers.

But importantly, it’s not just cloud users that are embracing multi-cloud as the new norm; cloud providers themselves are realizing that their customers are employing multi-cloud solutions to take advantage of the flexibility and scalability offered in the public cloud, while maintaining the control and security that private clouds afford. This realization is causing providers to branch out, with some private cloud vendors offering their services in the public cloud (think VMware on AWS & IBM Cloud, or Cisco on Google Cloud) while public cloud providers are starting to offer their services in traditional data center environments. An example of the latter–and the basis for this article–is Microsoft Azure’s creation of Azure Stack, which allows companies to use Azure infrastructure and networking services from the comfort of their own data center.

Designed to be an extension of Azure, the ultimate value proposition delivered here is the ability for customers to easily transfer workloads across hybrid-cloud environments, simplifying the creation of cloud bursting, disaster recovery, and various other specialized hybrid architectures. As an app owner, you could develop and test an app in Azure and then quickly and seamlessly transition that app to Azure Stack for production deployment (or vice versa), or you could also build hybrid apps that leverage the connectivity between Azure and Azure Stack. Essentially, an Azure user can now get the ‘Azure Experience’ in their own private data center, while being completely disconnected from the Internet (if desired) and without having to learn anything new.

F5’s Support for Azure Stack

Running identically in both Azure and Azure Stack, F5’s BIG-IP Virtual Edition (VE) empowers these users to further enhance the ‘hybridity’ of their architectures through replication of the supporting application services across environments. The aforementioned developer can now not only develop an app in one environment and relocate it to another, but they are also able to mirror an entire production ready stack–inclusive of all the same BIG-IP traffic and security policies, configurations, and industry-leading app services–reducing application time to market. And as is the case with the majority of Azure services, Azure Resource Manager (ARM) is also available in Azure Stack. This means that following a short period of thorough testing by our engineers, F5’s extensive range of ARM deployment templates will be available for use in Azure Stack. Although not currently supported, these templates can be found in F5’s GitHub repository, and will enable fast, autonomous spin up of various BIG-IP VE solutions and configurations in Azure Stack in the near future.

BIG-IP VEs are initially supporting up to 3Gbps of throughput capacity in Azure Stack, and are available via enterprise licensing agreement, annual subscription, or perpetual VE license.

If you have an existing Azure subscription and access to the Azure Marketplace, you can quickly and easily syndicate a VE image from the marketplace to your Azure Stack environment or alternatively you can download the image from downloads.f5.com and copy it to Azure Stack.

For more information on F5 in both Azure and Azure Stack you can read this White Paper and Solution Overview, or you can dive straight in and check out the BIG-IP VE in the Azure Marketplace.