F5 Networks Invokes Node.js to Put Developers in Control

Michael Vizard
Dec. 04 2013, 10:00AM EST

It may take some getting used to, but with more control over applications, developers will have to assume a lot more responsibility for their performance. At the Node Summit yesterday, F5 Networks announced that it is leveraging technology gained via its acquisition of LineRate Systems to allow developers to customize Web traffic via an API created using the Node.js framework.

According to Manish Vachharajani, senior architect for F5 Networks, the goal is to allow developers, not just the IT operations team, to invoke proxy software to make sure that specific applications get priority access to data center resources.

Part of the general shift toward software-defined networking (SDN) in particular and the DevOps movement in general, Vachharajani says that LineRate addresses the issue of giving developers the tools they need to invoke all the automation capabilities once SDN technology and DevOps practices are actually adopted.

By leveraging Node.js, developers can more easily deploy common services such as API metering and centralized authentication, says Vachharajani. Other benefits include the ability to steer and transform XML/SOAP messages and improving application testing by replicating real production traffic to their staging environment.

The LineRate module is available for free up to a limited rate with additional rates available based on performance requirements on a subscription basis.

In general, providers of IT infrastructure are racing to make their offering more programmable as part of an effort to both lower the cost of managing the IT environment and improving overall application performance. As those capabilities become more widely available they are redefining the roles of developers and IT operations teams within IT organizations. Instead of spending the majority of their time provisioning resources for applications, IT operations teams are making increased use of automation tools such as Puppet or Chef to manage IT infrastructure at scale. As those new IT management frameworks are deployed, APIs are being exposed that give developers more control over specific IT infrastructure resources.

IT infrastructure vendors, naturally, are hoping that in pursuit of these capabilities developers will exercise more influence over what IT infrastructure is selected by their organizations.

The degree to which developers will want to control IT infrastructure will vary depending on how stringent the performance requirements of any given application actually are. But the one thing that is for certain is that once infrastructure truly does become programmable, developers will have no one else but themselves to blame when the performance of their applications fails to live up to their expectations.

Michael Vizard

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