Visit AviNetworks.com or F5 Networks’ website and there will be no shortage of the word “automation”. In fact, both load balancing solutions sound very much alike according to their marketing teams, but in practice they couldn’t be more different.
F5 Networks is a tad creative with their messaging about their load balancer’s automation capabilities. Simply put, F5 Networks’ view on automation is like saying the Flintstone’s car is self-driving.
That’s not an entirely inaccurate description; however, we don’t often think of ourselves being the “self” in self-driving. Ideally, we’d want the car to have the intelligence and capabilities to do the work for us so we can give our feet a rest.
Back to load balancing. F5 Networks automation leaves a lot to be desired. Their load balancer is capable of automation as long as you script and manage the automation (in many ways defeating the purpose of automation in the first place). Each application requires custom scripting and it becomes more complex depending on the environment you’re running on. Automating physical load balancers in a data center is different than using virtual or cloud editions. Even then, the automation requires your attention so it can be configured to work in the clouds you’d like to use. In other words, you’re still in the driver seat. You’re still steering. You’re still using your feet to push the car forwards.
Even the F5 Networks controller comes straight from the stone ages. While the controller can connect to load balancers in multiple environments, the config for each load balancer still resides on each respective load balancer. This means that each load balancer needs to be treated like a pet and requires constant individual care and feeding through their controller. You are still the brain of the operation. You have to tell their controller what to do and how to do it.
The Avi Networks controller, on the other hand, works as a centralized orchestrator. The Avi Controller is the brain (instead of you). The config for each load balancer lives on the controller which manages each and every load balancer regardless of where it resides—on-prem or any cloud. This means that the controller treats load balancers like cattle instead of pets, and the controller makes load balancing decisions based on the context of applications and infrastructure. Additionally, Avi Networks deploys intent-based software load balancers across every environment (turnkey integrations with VMware, OpenStack, Red Hat, Cisco, AWS, and Azure to name a few). You don’t need to do the heavy lifting or code a bunch of custom scripts per app or per environment. The controller will automate the deployment, configuration, and scaling of load balancers as necessary to maintain performance and availability of applications. It works based on your intent.
Using the car analogy from earlier, Avi Networks is the Jetsons car. Fully automated, declarative, and full-featured. All you have to do is kick your feet up. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself. Schedule a demo and take a look at what real automation looks like.