Does your F5 migration need a Jenga consultant?

Does your F5 migration need a Jenga consultant?

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Updated on 3 mins

WHERE - Blog Sector

[Editor – Originally published in 2016, this post has been updated, based on recent conversations with our partners]

Look, let’s make this very clear, we love F5, we think they are awesome, the best ADC in the market. But sometimes they make you want to cry!

Does your F5 have so many applications and iRules that it feels like a gigantic unstable game of Jenga?

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The number one reason for people leaving F5 is complexity

Each F5 migration presents its own challenges, and you shouldn’t do this kind of thing without a lot of planning. This is why we offer a paid-for pre-migration health check (and depending on the size and complexity of the existing deployment) it can take several days to come up with a plan.

Unlike other vendors, our recommendation might not be what you expected:

  • We might suggest that you reconfigure the existing F5 deployment, simplify it, renew the support contract and not replace it with Loadbalancer.org.
  • We might suggest that save money by just cancelling the security module contract and replacing it with our WAF.
  • We might recommend that you use the F5 for 20 external services, and re-deploy your 60 internal applications across 6 * Loadbalancer.org appliances.
  • We might suggest that you use a cloud based WAF or CDN in front of our load balancers instead of our built-in WAF.
  • Or we might recommend that you just move the current F5 deployment straight on to a pair of our ADCs. i.e. migrate it exactly as it is.
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Good news - we've found that 90% of the time F5 migrations are easy!

Rest assured, We've done a lot of F5 migrations. After the inital consultation a  lot of customers don't even need much help. But if you do want help we have a set of simple packages:

  1. The 5 cluster package - one days worth of professional services.
  2. The 15 cluster package - three days worth of professional services.
  3. The big one - an in-depth free consultation to produce a viable plan to suit your requirements.

Our goal is to make the whole process as pain free as possible, and rest assured we are only interested in the best outcome for your business. If we don't think we are the right fit - we'll tell you straight!

But sometimes the Jenga stack will collapse!

Well, the other day I was helping one of our favorite partners, who in turn were trying to help a customer...They were planning to replace a pair of hardware F5 units with our Loadbalancer.org virtual appliances (for the obvious cost benefits). The customer had also requested that the infrastructure was tidied up, the security tightened, everything documented and training supplied.

Now that all sounded fine to me, even when I was given the existing 3,000 line configuration, I thought that’s OK - I could see some immediate gains in reducing the number of clusters, and simplifying some of the iRules... But when I started asking the customer if they agreed with my initial diagnosis, I got some blank looks. Slowly the story emerged that over the last decade the customer had used an assortment of external consultants to add or modify applications to the existing F5 configuration, and now it was so complex that no one actually knew what 60 of the 135 clusters were actually doing. The entire application stack had become a giant game of Jenga, where one false move could bring the whole thing crashing down!

So how did the story end?

Well, it took me 5 days longer than expected, but the customer is now very happy having ditched 60 phantom clusters, and splitting the applications across 2 separate pairs of Loadbalancer.org appliances, with approximately 40 services on each one.

Why did they split them across two pairs of load balancers?

Because they actually had two different application teams (from a prior merger), so it made a lot of sense to logically and physically separate the applications that they were each responsible for.

I’m glad to report that now when either team makes a change, they can do so with confidence that the whole thing won’t come crashing down around them. This will save them a great deal of pain in the long term...

And no more Jenga consultancy fees!