Communities of interest have been all the rage over the past few years. Just this year alone we’ve seen Infoblox, Aruba and other tech vendors launch online communities to support their products. The concept behind the community is that users of the products can share ideas, use cases, scripts, architectures or anything else related to the product, and what better way to learn about what’s possible than by leveraging the power of the community.
Although there are many vendors trying to build this today, no one has executed on this better than F5 Networks. For those who aren’t familiar with F5, the company has a scripting language called iRules that administrators can use to enable custom features and do some cool things with the products. DevCentral was created to allow the community to share these ideas, scripts and use cases with one another, and over the past few years it’s become extremely popular and easily F5’s biggest competitive differentiator.
This week F5 made its biggest enhancement to DevCentral since its announcement that it’s moving DevCentral to the cloud. All cloud-enabled F5 solutions will now be running in multiple Bluelock virtual data centers, making the functionality ubiquitously available to the DevCentral community.
The cloud enablement of the F5 suite makes DevCentral an ideal solution for DevOps. DevOps can now try things in the cloud environment and ensure they’re always working with the latest versions of the products and will have access to all of the F5 capabilities. The benefit to the customer is that it should accelerate the development and deployment of new applications and update cycles with minimal risk. DevOps can develop in the DevCentral cloud and then migrate it to production environment when ready.
Another benefit to the community is just overall comfort with the cloud. I’ve maintained that cloud today is long on mouthshare and short on wallet share as customers are still getting comfortable with how things work when cloud enabled. Well, wonder no more. IT departments can leverage Bluelock and F5’s cloud solutions to develop their own cloud solutions and use the F5 suite to optimize and secure the environment.
The benefit to F5 is that the huge DevCentral base will have access to the entire suite of F5’s cloud-enabled products with the more current feature set. This should drive bigger deal sizes with more frequent upgrades.
This is a great move for F5 as it exposes its huge base of customers to more products faster, but ultimately the real benefit is to the DevCentral audience as the cloud enablement of the F5 suite of products further raises the value of the community. F5’s initial launch of DevCentral was to enable its customers to do cool things. Now they can do those cool things in the cloud.