F5 Unveils Cloud-Native Network Functions for Modern Telco Workloads

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F5 has unveiled a new series of BIG-IP Next cloud-native network functions (CNFs) to help service providers automate operations, adopt modern architectures, and cut total cost of ownership (TCO).

“The telecommunications industry is at an inflection point, and what we do now will set the stage for the next decade,” said Ahmed Guetari, VP of Products for Service Providers at F5.

“The world’s leading service providers are now building out standalone 5G networks, which calls for a service-based architecture. Cloud-native architectures offer remarkable operational benefits, and CNFs are foundational building blocks that comprise this architecture.”

F5 BIG-IP Next CNFs are based on fully rearchitected versions of F5’s trusted security and traffic management functions. Developed from the ground-up to be cloud-native, they will ultimately be both cloud- and platform-agnostic. This means F5’s rich set of capabilities and functionalities will be available via the new CNF products to help customers accelerate and secure 5G deployment.

A wide range of CNFs will be rolled out, starting with:

  • BIG-IP Next Edge Firewall CNF, which leverages the firewall, DDoS, and IPS technology from the popular F5 BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager (AFM). Its unique, application-centric design effectively guards against targeted, network infrastructure level attacks.
  • BIG-IP Next Policy Enforcer CNF, which supports several advanced policy and traffic management use cases from the F5® BIG-IP® Policy Enforcement Manager (PEM). Combining policy enforcer tools—such as traffic classification, TCP optimisation, and subscriber awareness— it will deliver increased performance, improved subscriber quality of experience, higher average revenue per user, and lowered total cost of ownership.
  • BIG-IP Next CGNAT CNF, which uses address translation technology to ease IPv6 migration and improve network scalability with Ipv4 address management.
  • BIG-IP Next DNS CNF, which will support DNS caching and can reduce latency by up to 80%.

“These CNFs were developed to respond to customer requests, and several leading service providers are already preparing to deploy our comprehensive, carrier-grade BIG-IP CNFs to protect their entire network and enrich their customer’s experience,” said Guetari.

“The first of the new F5 CNFs are focused on security to strengthen and optimise demanding environments that require flexible resource allocation to be scalable, automated, resilient, and more manageable. We are reducing the software footprint and enabling horizontal scaling that can be natively controlled by Kubernetes. We’re also making that horizontal scaling more robust.”

Immediate use cases for the new F5 CNFs include supporting telco network functions for both 4G and 5G, IT workloads, and managed services (cloud-native CaaS/PaaS, vRAN, 5G Core (NSA and SA)), S/Gi-LAN/N6 consolidation, and security at the edge.

“Our new CNF solutions also support use cases for fixed-line and cable service providers who are deploying data centers and adopting multi-access edge compute solutions. Large technology companies and enterprises looking to securely deploy revenue-generating apps in a microservices architecture on Kubernetes will also benefit,” added Guetari.

This is the latest expansion of F5’s service provider solutions suite to manage and secure, multi-cloud, multi-tenant, distributed cloud. It follows on from 2020’s launch of BIG-IP Service Proxy for Kubernetes (SPK) and Carrier-Grade Aspen Mesh, which are infrastructure solutions aimed at securing and supporting the deployment and operation of cloud-native 5G standalone core networks.

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