Cloud-based platform in response to growing demand for ‘as-a-service’ solutions
‘At the end of the day, security is all about management’
APPLICATION delivery networking solutions provider F5 Networks has officially launched its Silverline platform in Asia, offering extended security, optimisation, and availability services from a hosted and managed infrastructure.
Traditionally focused on on-premise solutions, the company’s move to offer a cloud-based delivery platform, alongside hybrid options, is in response to growing demand for ‘as-a-service’ solutions that do not entail heavy investment in infrastructure and management, F5 Networks executives said.
With operations in 32 countries and a staff count of about 3,835, the Seattle-headquartered company recorded US$1.73 billion in revenue in 2014, with Asia Pacific region accounting for 20% of its worldwide business.
During a briefing hosted at its Singapore office, Emmanuel Bonnassie (pic), senior vice president of sales for Asia Pacific, said that work began on the Silverline platform about 18 months ago because of the quickly changing nature of market demand.
He said that macro-level industry trends are amplified in Asia, where there’s wide mobility adoption and penetration, and an environment that is changing rapidly, with the Internet of Things (IoT) movement also picking up.
Bonnassie argued that F5 Networks is uniquely placed to serve the needs of its customers, given its experience in applications delivery.
“The common denominator in all this is the app, which has become the core of how organisations – be it government agencies or telecommunications operators – drive business and deliver services to customers.
“The rise of mobility is adding complexity to the mix as companies embrace converged systems and/ or cloud-based solutions to meet business needs.
“Where F5 delivers value is ensuring app continuity and performance as [the business] shifts from on-premise to cloud environments,” he added.
F5’s investment in hybrid services delivery and security intelligence licensing options mirrors the industry’s rising interest in providing programmable application delivery capabilities across physical and virtual infrastructures to support Software Defined Application Services and other software-defined initiatives.
Leading with DDoS protection
Research firm TechNavio has forecast that the global Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) prevention market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.4% from 2012-2016.
One of the key factors contributing to this growth is the need to improve the quality of protection. The global DDoS prevention market has also been witnessing an increasing demand for cloud-based offerings.
“However, the high cost of implementation could pose a challenge to the growth of this market,” TechNavio noted.
F5 Networks’ decision to have the Silverline platform make its debut with a DDoS protection service as the first offering stems from its May 2014 acquisition of Defense.Net, a privately-held provider of cloud-based security services for protecting data centres and Internet applications from DDoS attacks.
The move expanded F5 Networks’ portfolio of security solutions for defence against Internet-based DDoS attacks on networks, data centres, and applications.
Designed by DDoS industry pioneers, Defense.Net’s service is supported by an advanced, high-throughput infrastructure to defend organisations against the new generation of massive and sophisticated DDoS attacks.
The network supports multiple protocols and provides features for remediation and control to safeguard customers from unforeseen threat vectors, while maintaining application performance.
Defense.Net’s high-capacity cloud service is considered complementary to F5 Networks’ existing on-premise DDoS protection capabilities.
“F5 is the first application delivery networking company to offer a hybrid solution for DDoS protection,” claimed Bonnassie.
“This type of hybrid solution, combining on-premises DDoS protection capabilities with a high-capacity cloud service, provides enterprises with robust capability to absorb and mitigate a complete spectrum of DDoS attacks,” he added.
In addition, F5 Networks has made “significant investments” as part of its concerted campaign to strengthen its security support capabilities to bolster its new hybrid security service, he said.
This includes the establishment of globally distributed scrubbing centres, one of which is based in Singapore.
Part of F5 Networks’ global security operation centre (SOC) infrastructure, the centre analyses incoming traffic, identifies threats, and removes malicious traffic, ultimately returning clean traffic to the destination website with little to no impact to the end-user or the network.
Asked to put a dollar figure to the investment the company has made in strengthening its infrastructure assets in Asia, Bonnassie could only describe it as a “multimillion-dollar” investment, adding that it forms the first step to further expanding its range of services in the region.
F5 Networks marketing director Kunaciilan Nallappan (pic) noted that the intensity and sophistication of DDoS attacks have risen in recent times.
He argued that F5 Networks’ “deep knowledge” of app architecture and its vulnerabilities enables it to better protect assets, compared with traditional network vendors.
“We’re bringing extensibility to our on-premise DDoS protection solution with a cloud and hybrid offering and, in addition, customers can manage it using the same tool as our on-premise solution.
“That’s a key differentiator, as it’s not about having offline or on-premise solutions; it’s about having them managed under the same dashboard. At the end of the day, security is all about management,” he added.
F5 Networks also claims that its open and programmable architecture enables network security administrators to extend custom rules to mitigate zero-day attacks, and works seamlessly with F5’s Application Delivery Controller (ADC) solutions to create what it additionally claims to be “the most complete DDoS protection solution.”
The company provides tiered protection levels, based on customer needs and potential attack profiles:
Always On – First line of defence. This subscription continuously stops bad traffic from reaching the network.
Always Available – Primary protection on demand. This subscription runs on stand-by and can be initiated as needed when under attack.
Ready Defence – Secondary DDoS protection. This subscription provides additional capacity to bolster DDoS mitigation capabilities.
Low-hanging fruit, next steps
It’s early days yet for the solution in Asia, but F5 Networks already counts social media companies LiveJournal and Weebly as customers in the United States, but was unable to share the total number of customers for its DDoS protection solution globally.
Apart from media and social media companies, Kunaciilan said that F5 Networks expects high take-up in verticals such as finance, enterprise, government services and e-commerce – industries where any network downtime would result in significant revenue losses.
Meanwhile Bonnassie claimed that since Silverline’s launch in the United States, market demand has been “more than we can handle” with “big names in e-commerce” counted amongst interested customers.
F5 Networks was also unable to share an estimated price range for its as-a-service model, with Bonnassie stating that the company was confident in its price points.
“When it comes to security solutions, it's a race that’s continuously changing and who is in a leadership position doesn’t mean much really.
“I believe our app and DDoS DNA combined offers us a competitive edge over other vendors,” he added.
Asked which service would be launched on the Silverline platform next, Bonnassie was non-committal but noted that there was strong demand for web app firewall products, which is one of the options the company was currently exploring.
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