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CyberAgent implements private cloud solution with F5’s VIPRION to strengthen development environment and improve speed and flexibility

Background

Founded in 1998, CyberAgent Inc. is one of Japan’s leading internet services companies. Initially established to provide internet advertising services, it has since expanded into the business of providing blogs, games, and online community services to smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs. CyberAgent is most famous in Japan for Ameba, a highly popular blogging and social networking site that boasts 22 million monthly unique visitors and is the 10th most visited site in Japan.

Business Challenges

As a business expands and develops, so too must the network infrastructure that supports it. In recent years CyberAgent has been adding more dynamic content, like games and video, to their media portfolio. With the addition of these rich media services CyberAgent has been made efforts to strengthen its network infrastructure and increase its number of data centers to ensure a positive customer experience.

As the main services we offer have shifted from static content like blogs, to dynamic content like games and video, we can no longer rely on just on-premise administration through the use of contracted data centers. As such, we now also make substantial use of public clouds. Masakazu Shinohara, Infrastructure & Core Technology division at CyberAgent.

CyberAgent’s application engineers had already made use of large-scale public cloud services in development activities – it had become their de facto standard. By 2011, in response to the rapid growth of smart devices, CyberAgent increased their use of public clouds to accommodate a new large-scale project requiring the launch of 100 services in 2 years. The provision of services via public clouds was not ideal, however. It is less than ideal from a cost-performance perspective, and the systems required for games and other dynamic content need to managed differently than those required for blogs and static content. Essentially, CyberAgent’s engineers needed greater performance from computer

Solution

“To realize the speed and flexibility of public clouds, as well as a development environment comparable to on-premise facilities, it made the most sense for us to go with a private cloud solution,” says Atsushi Tanaka, Network Engineer of Cyber Agent’s Infrastructure & Core Technology division..

The company needed an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) capable of intelligently administering high numbers of applications. For an ADC to do so, it must offer not only speed, but also seamless scalability and operational reliability. Under those demanding criteria, Cyber Agent F5’s VIPRION® platform.

Of the ADCs available that are capable of meeting these demanding requirements, VIPRION was an easy choice,” says Tanaka. “VIPRION is capable of running multiple ADCs on a single device which means we’re able to maintain sufficient performance even when running a large number of services.

Tanaka also cites the flexibility afforded by VIPRION as particularly important for CyberAgent. With VIPRION, scalability can be achieved seamlessly – without stopping operation – simply by adding modular performance blades to the system. Other factors in CyberAgent’s decision to choose VIPRION included F5’s support system, and the fact that CyberAgent’has used F5 load balancers since 2008. “We’ve always found them very reliable. Short packet loss is rare, and the UI is easy to use. We’ve used them for many years without any problems,” says Tanaka.

CyberAgent was also looking for a high cost-performance firewall that could be implemented with VIPRION, and decided on F5’s BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) with BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager (AFM) add-on module.

Benefits

  • 4x increase in SSL processing capabilities:
    As CPU usage can reach 90% at peak times with SSL offload processing, CyberAgent has in the past experienced difficulties in developing new services with standard load balancers. With VIPRION, however, CyberAgent is now able to implement SSL processing four times faster than standard load balancers.
  • Engineers able to create load balancers through the use of APIs:
    As all F5 products come equipped with APIs as standard, application engineers are able to create manage traffic with the necessary virtual machines (VM) using a GUI. “In future, we’ll be able to quickly launch new services and carry out maintenance more quickly, benefitting both our business and our customers. Make no mistake, it is thanks to VIPRION’s APIs that we will be able to do this,” says Shinohara.
  • A unique online developer community providing the latest information and help in solving problems:
    F5 Networks’ DevCentral has been a useful source of information for CyberAgent. “Web developers want to know how other developers have solved problems. As such they need to be able to access up-to-date information on a number of topics. I was able to find solutions to problems simply by searching DevCentral and getting advice from other users who had experienced the same issues. This was tremendously useful,” says Shinohara.

Future initiatives

Going forward, Shinohara says that CyberAgent is now pursuing the kinds of initiatives that require only a small investment in infrastructure, but would deliver big benefits. Initiatives such as increasing server density and increasing network bandwidth. For this reason, CyberAgent is interested in the LB/ADC virtualization capabilities offered by F5’s LBaaS. “We’re interested to see the kinds of software models they offer for use with specific platforms in future,” says Shinohara.