One of the funny things about infrastructure moving toward a mix of hardware and software (virtual or traditional) is that the issues that plague software come with it. Oh, maybe not right away, but eventually they crawl out of the deep recesses of the data center like a Creeper in Minecraft and explode on the unsuspecting adventurer, er, professional.
While licensing network infrastructure has never been painless, it's never been as complicated or difficult as its software counterparts simply due to the sheer magnitude of difference between the number of network boxes under management and the number of software applications and infrastructure under management.
That is changing. Rapidly.
Whether it's because of expanding cloud footprints or a need to support microservices and highly virtualized environments, the reality is that the volume of software-based infrastructure is increasing. Like its application counterparts, that means licensing challenges are increasing too.
That means We (that's the corporate F5 "we") have to change, too. As we continue to expand the software offerings available for F5 Synthesis beyond cloud and virtualization, we need to also adjust licensing options. That means staying true to the Synthesis tenet of Simplified Business Models.
That's why we're making not one but two announcements at the same time. The first is the expansion of existing software options for F5 Synthesis. In addition to cloud-native and virtual editions of BIG-IP, we're making available a lightweight, load balancing service - LineRate Point. LineRate Point complements existing Synthesis services by supporting more directly the needs of application and operations teams for agile, programmable application-affine services in the data center or in the cloud, on- and off-premise. This is a missing component as the data center architecture bifurcates into a shared, core network and an app specific (business) network. Whether it's a focus on moving toward Network Service Virtualization or a need to deploy on a per-app / per-service basis thanks to microservices or increasing mobile application development, LineRate Point offers the scale and security necessary without compromising on the agility or programmability required to fit into the more volatile environment of the growing application network.
But a sudden explosion of LineRate Point (or any service, really) anyway across the potential deployment spectrum would create the same kind of tracking and management headaches experienced by software infrastructure and applications. Licensing becomes a nightmare, particularly when instances might be provisioned and terminated on a more frequent basis than is typical for most network-deployed services.
So along with the introduction of LineRate Point we're also bringing to F5 Synthesis Volume License Subscriptions (VLS). VLS holds true to the tenet of simplified business models both by offering F5 Synthesis software options (VE, cloud and LineRate Point) with a licensing model that fits the more expansive use of these services to support microservices, cloud and virtualization.
VLS brings to F5 Synthesis the ability to support the migration of service infrastructure closer to the applications it is supporting without sacrificing the need for management and licensing. VLS also simplifies a virtual-based Synthesis High Performance Service Fabric by centralizing licensing of large numbers of virtual BIG-IP instances (VE) and simplifying the process.
According to a 2014 InformationWeek survey on software licensing, nearly 40% of organizations have a dedicated resource who spends more than 50% of their time managing licenses and subscriptions. Moving to a more software-focused approach for infrastructure services will eventually do the same if it's not carefully managed from the start. By taking advantage of F5 Synthesis Simplified Business Models and its VLS offering, organizations can avoid the inevitable by bringing a simplified licensing strategy along with their software-based service infrastructure.