FlexPool: Simplifying software licensing for application delivery services

A10 Networks' latest IT-as-a-service component makes it easier for enterprises and service providers to consume app delivery services by reallocating capacity across cloud and traditional IT infrastructure.

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A10 Networks operates at the intersection between application delivery services and security, catering for the full range of deployment platforms -- public, private and hybrid cloud, and traditional on-premises infrastructure.

The company's portfolio covers application delivery and load balancing, DDoS protection, SSL visibility, data centre and Gi/SGi firewall, IPsec, IPv4 preservation and IPv6 transition, and management. A10's products are available as optimised hardware appliances, bare metal software, virtual appliances and cloud-native software.

Earlier this year A10 built upon its 2016 acquisition of Appcito by launching the cloud-native Harmony Controller to deliver centralised management and analytics for its secure application services. Now the company has added another key component of the IT-as-a-service model: a software subscription-based capacity pooling licence called FlexPool.

Software licensing has always been a headache for enterprises and service providers, with traditional solutions tending to result in costly over-provision, Kishore Inampudi, director of product management at A10 Networks, told ZDNet. "Today, most software licences are perpetual, fixed-capacity licences tied to hardware, which means additional maintenance costs. This model will continue to exist in use cases such as traditional and virtualised data centres, but as we look at cloud and multi-cloud environments, licence portability becomes more important. Also, from a solution point of view, customers would like to consume capacity as a pool, not just individual licences."

Image: A10 Networks

With the SaaS-based FlexPool, customers can purchase licensed application delivery capacity as required and then allocate it flexibly across whatever IT infrastructure they care to use. Capacity pools of 10Gbps, 50Gbps and 100Gbps are available, as well as custom bundles. Prices start at $29,000 for a one-year 10Gbps subscription, rising to $557,000 for a three-year 100Gbps subscription. Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs) are also available.

"It's a floating licence pool: we don't count instances." said Inampudi. "As long as the aggregate capacity usage is being met, we don't count how many licences customers would like to use. This is pre-allocated capacity, meaning that once an instance is allocated you just check out the bandwidth needed for that instance; when that instance is done you can check that capacity back into the pool. For enterprises this is much more flexible."

A central management portal, the GLM (Global License Manager), provides visibility and usage monitoring for the Flexpool service, which supports A10 Networks' software-based Thunder appliances for application delivery (Thunder ADC), IPv4 preservation/IPv6 migration (Thunder CGN) and firewalling (Thunder CFW).

According to A10 Networks, there are significant savings to be made by adopting a subscription model for software licensing. "Upfront costs will be lower, at least one-third compared to a perpetual model," said Inampudi. "And as long as customers have automated systems that can talk to our GLM to get the licences, they can make significant operational efficiencies, too" he added.

Image: A10 Networks

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