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Open Source Spotlight: F5 Announces It Will Commit More than Code

Open source has come a long way (baby) since the days of lengthy downloads and subsequent custom compiles of Slackware. I’ve seen a multitude of companies and foundations rise and fall on the shoulders of open source over the past two decades. The most significant contributor to the success of those that have grown where others failed is support – both commercial and community.

Both are necessary for the long-term success of open source. Commercial vendor support provides much needed service and financial support that enables the community to focus on code. This is evident by the enterprise organizations who still refuse to adopt open source software: “limited service and support” remains the top reason why they avoid open source according to a 2016 Zenoss survey. Amongst those that do eagerly adopt open source, over half (56%) had ‘upgraded’ to paid versions. Over half the enterprise respondents to the Zenoss survey (51%) cited “better service and support” as the reason for upgrading.

The seemingly star-crossed marriage of commercial and community has been part of the secret sauce of just about every open source project that’s become a household name. Android, anyone?

We (that’s the corporate We) have been involved in open source for over twenty years. Our engineers and IT participate and contribute to open source and our iRules community is built on the same principles of sharing and collaboration of ideas and code. We’ve developed integrations and sought partnerships with commercial open source vendors with the same eagerness and excitement as that of our commercial alliance partners. And in recent years we’ve embraced open source even more aggressively by building and releasing solutions for open source as open source.

But it’s time to do more than commit code.

With that in mind, we are excited to announce that F5 has joined the Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) at the Silver level to emphasize our commitment to open source technologies. In addition to F5 joining CNCF, we will also be a silver sponsor of the Linux Foundation - the umbrella organization for CNCF. 

The Cloud Native compute foundation hosts a significant number of open source projects such as Kubernetes (Container Management) and Envoy (Service Mesh Proxy). Nearly 16% of enterprise respondents in our State of Application Delivery 2018 survey indicate they are or plan to use Kubernetes as their preferred container solution. And it’s not just about apps; the percentage of respondents that desire the deployment of app services in containers doubled year over year.

With Pivotal, Docker, and Mesosphere (amongst a length list of others) offering support for Kubernetes, it’s clear that it will be amongst the top (if not the top) offerings as containerization continues to consume significant chunks of application deployments. We’re seeing substantial interest in our container integrations with Kubernetes as well as OpenShift and Cloud Foundry, which leads us to the desire to focus some of our expertise in scaling apps and platforms to the Kubernetes platform to help it continue to mature - particularly at the networking layer. 

Given that, we’re ready to announce our latest open source initiative: Aspen Mesh.  Aspen Mesh is an enterprise-grade service mesh because we believe a robust microservice communication fabric is the best possible path to scaling containerized apps whether in the data center or in the cloud (or both). But we also understand the needs and complexity of enterprise production environments. A service-mesh needs to do more than just scale apps; it also needs to monitor and secure them. To that end, we’re building Aspen Mesh on the Istio project, and providing a supported service mesh infrastructure that allows DevOps teams the flexibility and autonomy they desire while providing the policy, visibility and insights into microservices that operations teams demand for production-grade applications. We are currently in early access mode for Aspen Mesh and welcome customers who are interested in working with us in that process. We anticipate full product availability later next year (2018). 

We’re excited about the future we see in container technology and environments, and pleased to be committing more than code to make it a successful future.