Last week (August 1st - 4th) took us to Chicago for F5's annual customer and partner conference, F5 Agility.
This year saw a significant increase in coverage of programmability and orchestration (P&O) than in previous years. This was surprising to some, given we released our management-plane API in 2001 (yes, well ahead of the programmable infrastructure game). So early was it that REST was barely a glint in someone's eye. Hence, the initial F5 iControl (management API) was SOAP/XML. So, why the change? Why drive P&O now?
Image 1: one of the hands-on labs run by myself, Hitesh Patel, and Eric Chen.
I recall receiving some training back in my days as an F5 sales engineer. It was a while back but I remember learning of the three 'T's: Territory, Timing, and Talent. To be good in sales you need at least two of those, or you might struggle. Thinking about this now, I'd say it applies just the same to technology. How many organizations were screaming to extend their continuous deployment pipeline to include infrastructure configuration back in 2001? Then again, how many people had even uttered the phrase 'continuous deployment'?
Timing is very important, and based on the reaction at F5 Agility this year, the time for programmable infrastructure is NOW. Many conversations at the event seemed to take a similar path, whereby NetOps staff have been told to integrate and automate what they've been doing manually so as to become part of the continuous deployment pipeline. They reported of their leadership expectation that revenue-generating and productivity improving applications be made available to target audiences 'without delay'.
Reminds me of an Elon Musk quote, "You really can't have people in the production line itself. Otherwise you'll automatically drop to people speed."
The drive for automation through the integration of deployment tools with programmable infrastructure makes sense, but its often easier said than done. Back to Agility 2016 and the significant increase in programmability and orchestration this year (and for years to come), we covered everything from business level conversations to half-day hands-on labs, which you can grab a copy of from Github here. The thirst to learn best practices for integration was like never before (this is my 8th agility conference).
Prevalent among the interactive breakout sessions, the hallway conversations, and the opening and closing events was that the Time is definitely now. For those looking for guidance along this operational evolution, stay in touch and follow the iWorkflow 101 and 201 series here: https://devcentral.f5.com/s/iworkflow We're keenly focussed on being an enabler of your orchestration journey!