A10 Networks aims at remaking applications for the cloud

Applications networking and security company hopes recent acquisition will give it an edge in delivering cloud solutions.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

In today's systems world, IT departments are almost spoilt for choice. Many are going with some flavour of the cloud.

Image: iStock

If the cloud is the future for your company, then you need to find a way to cloud-enable not just your new applications but your tried and tested ones too -- and you will want to do it quickly.

A10 Networks, which currently specialises in applications networking and security, believes it can help your applications development and delivery come to terms with new concepts like DevOps.

In July last year A10 bought Appcito, a provider of SaaS-based, multi-cloud ADC solution utilizing microservice and container architectures, and incorporated it into its Lightening brand of networking products.

"What we are trying to do with this acquisition is address business agility," said A10's director of systems delivery for EMEA, Duncan Hughes. "These days it is the business that is leading IT and IT has to adapt to that which is all about how applications are developed and delivered and consumed."

Hughes believes A10 can differentiate itself from other suppliers as it is "not just taking an application and putting it in a managed datacentre somewhere and calling that its cloud offering". Instead it's "changing the way that applications are developed from the outset".

That means there is "a lot of focus around things like microservices and containers," he said.

Hughes believes that with Appcito, A10 now has the technology that can help IT departments implement DevOps more quickly.

"These days, organisations are asking themselves questions like, 'Do I take advantage of a public managed service and then try and integrate it with my private datacentre or cloud in some kind of hybrid solution, one that helps me to reach my agility objectives through some kind of scalability, or elasticity?'"

And then, "'When I look at the application delivery objectives, they are led by IT guys, whereas the application developers want greater control through things like self-service. On top of that I have things like DevOps which need special skills,'" he said.


A10's Duncan Hughes: "The takeup of the controller is growing and now we need to make it more robust and scalable."

Image: A10 Networks

"Over the last three of four years, with our existing products -- where we have open APIs -- we are seeing a lot of customers taking advantage of that. Often, they are building these environments in-house, but they are providing very simplistic front-ends, making it very easy to spin up services. So DevOps is very much moving from the lab and test environments into production."

Hughes believes that in today's systems world, IT departments are almost spoilt for choice. "There are many options," he says. "There are the applications that are available via the public cloud providers... but while they serve a function they often don't have the rich features that customers want these days.

"Then there are the traditional appliances that are usually plumbed into the infrastructure. With that it is difficult to spin up new services on them. Services such as elasticity, auto scale-up, and so on, and then the visibility tools that come with the appliances are often limited too.

"In between those, you have the open-source option with tools like HAProxy, which are used by the Ubers, Googles, and Facebooks of this world -- the companies that have the open source tools and manage and run them themselves."

A10's Lightning's Application Delivery Service (ADS) is targeted at companies that do not have the in-house skills required and want the vendor to supply them and make them easy to use.

Hughes says his company's "point of difference" is that its offering has been built from the outset to be cloud native so it integrates with container-based applications -- microservices, etc -- and is built to work in both the public and private cloud, so that companies can build hybrid environments with "single product management".

The two main components are the A10 Cloud, which has a usage-based pricing model, either on a rental or byte-transfer basis, and the Lightening Controller, which provisions and orchestrates the system and provides the analytics. On top of those there can be a number of ADC clusters within the datacentres, whether it is based on a public or private cloud.

The Lightening brand was introduced in November, following the Appcito acquisition.

The main components of the A10 Lightening system are:

A10 Lightning Controller: A SaaS-based controller which gives central management, policy configuration, and a big data repository and analytics engine.

Lightning ADC: Full proxy software that executes Layer 4-7 application load balancing and security policies that are managed across diverse clouds by the Lightning Controller.

Lightning Portal: A self-service, role-based portal for managing the infrastructure and associated policies on a per-application basis.

Lightning APIs: All capabilities are available via the RESTful interface; orchestration and configuration APIs may be used to integrate with deployment automation tools like Chef, Ansible and Jenkins.

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