As part of an effort to better align DevOps and network operations (NetOps), F5 Networks plans to acquire NGINX, a provider of widely employed open source loading balancing software.
The two companies revealed in a call with financial analysts that the primary goal of the $760 million deal is to meld the two companies’ combined expertise to develop application delivery controllers (ADCs) that are optimized for modern applications based on microservices.
F5 Networks CEO François Locoh-Donou said F5 Network plans to continue operating NGINX as an independent brand in addition to maintaining support for the NGINX open source community. NGINX CEO Gus Robertson will become general manager of the NGINX business unit. NGINX founders Igor Sysoev and Maxim Konovalov also plan to stay on.
Locoh-Donou also disclosed that while NGINX software is employed today at more than 375 million sites, the company only generated $26 million in revenue in 2018, mostly by providing commercial support to enterprise customers. F5 Networks will move to combine investments both companies have been making in containers to deliver a next-generation ADC optimized for microservices-based applications spanning multi-cloud computing environments, he said.
As part of that strategy, however, both companies will need to come to terms with Envoy, an open source load balancing project led by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). Envoy is already providing the foundation for multiple service mesh projects that make load balancing a feature of a higher-level mechanism for managing services running on a Kubernetes cluster. Obviously, F5 Networks hopes to fulfill an opportunity to manage multiple instances of service meshes running on multiple Kubernetes clusters that.
In fact, Locoh-Donou cited industry research that forecasts by 2022 there will be more than 198 million workloads running on some form of a microservices-based architecture. In contrast, 44 million workloads are expected to be running on legacy platforms.
Locoh-Donou said F5 Networks also expects to leverage NGINX to expand its presence in application programming interface (API) management and associated web application services, which he noted collectively represent multibillion-dollar market opportunities.
The decision to acquire NGINX reflects the inevitable melding of NetOps and DevOps, he added, noting that inconsistent approaches to managing application service across emerging microservices-based environments are a recipe for creating unstable IT environments.
While it’s still a little too early to determine to what degree NetOps will be subsumed into DevOps processes, Locoh-Donou said F5 Networks plans to advance adoption of NGINX software by educating its core base of NetOps administrators on how microservices applications are deployed across extended networks and the rigors of the DevOps processes required to manage them.
Both F5 Network and NGINX made a name for themselves by interconnecting IT environments made up largely of virtual machines. While virtual machines are not going away anytime soon, so-called cloud-native applications built using containers running on Kubernetes clusters require a different approach to delivering infrastructure services. The challenge facing the combined company is finding a way to deliver those services in a way DevOps teams want to consume.