F5 Goes Big in Multicloud Visibility and Security


By: R. Scott Raynovich

Application infrastructure provider F5 has announced some new products and features aimed at taming multicloud and hybrid infrastructure headaches, including application programming interface (API) security as well as AI-guided infrastructure products.

The announcements dovetail nicely with the hot cloud infrastructure trends Futuriom has targeted for 2024 – including AI infrastructure, observability, and automation. F5’s new launches fit neatly into these trends. It’s also got a compelling story of how this will help deliver end-to-end security across hybrid infrastructure.

F5 CEO François Locoh-Donou has been increasingly focused on multicloud and hybrid cloud challenges and solutions. Let's dive in to see what was announced.

API Security with Wib Acquisition

First up, APIs. In the cloud-native economy, APIs have moved front and center as a way to build, configure, and orchestrate applications and data. But APIs also pose big security risks. API inventory, zombie APIs, and BOLA attacks are all concerns -- along with other scary things we explain in this API security Tech Primer.

At last year's RSA Conference, API security was a hot topic covered in detail in our Shift Left and API Security report, which also highlights the leading companies in this space.

F5 has introduced API security – including code testing and telemetry analysis – to its F5 Distributed Cloud Services. That piece is coming with the help of the acquisition of Wib Security, one of the companies included in our Futuriom 50 list of startups to watch. F5 says that the rapid expansion of AI will make API security key to secure infrastructure.

Chief Product Officer Kara Sprague told me that the rise of AI will only complicate things further by adding more diverse data, code, and APIs to the mix.

"Because of the rise of AI, we expect a flood of AI-based applications which have more APIs," said Sprague in an interview with Futuriom. "APIs and API security are going to be critical elements of securing [multicloud and hybrid] infrastructure."

F5's forthcoming 2024 State of Application Strategy report says that 88% of enterprises deploy apps and APIs across multiple locations. Companies have realized that no single cloud is perfect for every application, while hybrid and multicloud architectures “offer the flexibility for modern digital experiences.”

F5 says Distributed Cloud Services will offer the following benefits for full API lifecycle security :

  • Greatly reduced risk window for new APIs, through the identification of vulnerabilities and enforcement of strict, accurate specifications before they enter production.
  • Clear governance guidance, with real-time standards and regulatory compliance reporting for security operations teams and CISOs.
  • API discovery, including third-party and unmanaged APIs in application code, on public internet properties, or referenced in app telemetry.
  • A single solution for both API discovery and enforcement of protocols, policies, and configurations from code to runtime.

AI for Multicloud and Hybrid Pain Points

As another part of the initiative to prep professionals for more complex, distributed environments, F5 will be introducing AI capabilities across its entire portfolio, with AI-powered tools to improve security as well as to make it easier to secure and manage multicloud application environments.

F5’s product and feature introductions are timely. The explosion of hybrid apps, as well as the fast ramp of AI, will put new demands on IT, security, and networking teams.

These concerns are likely accelerating as organizations look to leverage multicloud and hybrid cloud resources to ramp up for applications such as AI, as well as any applications that requires fast and secure access to multiple cloud services or diverse infrastructure.

F5 points out that its product suite collects application-level data from many vectors and that its products touch the data path of nearly half of the world’s applications. The F5 AI Data Fabric will use data telemetry from Distributed Cloud Services, BIG-IP, and NGINX to generate insights, produce real-time reports, automate actions, and power AI agents.

F5 says that later in the year it is introducing an AI assistant that will change the way customers interact with and manage F5 solutions using a natural language interface. Powered by the F5 AI Data Fabric, the tool will help IT and security teams manage complex multicloud environments.

Futuriom Take: F5's new announcements position the company as a key provider of tools for distributed cloud infrastructure, with end-to-end management of connectivity and security from the network to app level.