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F5 Application Security Module Enables Global Retailer to Deliver Services from the Cloud During Peak Traffic Spikes

F5 Flexible Enterprise License Agreement allows retailer to provision needed infrastructure fast.

Challenge

With the end-of-year holiday shopping season quickly approaching, a major US-based retailer was encountering several challenges when planning the migration of their dot.com workloads to public cloud

Even after a large investment in data center infrastructure, the retailer still did not have the flexibility and agility to support the anticipated spike in holiday traffic. It quickly realized the fastest way to add agility would be through public cloud. 

The retailer had invested heavily in homegrown automation tools for configuration management and provisioning, but these tools would not work in public cloud. This challenge was amplified by the scale of data that needed to be provisioned and deployed to the public cloud before the influx of holiday traffic. 

 

Organizations struggle to achieve factory-like efficiency to workload migration
Organizations struggle to achieve factory-like efficiency to workload migration

 

Deploying with inconsistent security policies and less visibility into application flows would have been fast and easy, but the retailer needed a completely secure solution. The holiday traffic would be a good match for the flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but it needed to operate and manage applications more closely.

This called for a proven automated enterprise solution that ensures consistent security policies and visibility across clouds, while meeting business demands. Complicating matters further, the solution needed to be capable of tripling capacity in days, not weeks or months. 

The biggest challenge was time. The retailer needed this all within a few weeks. 

Solution

Why not just use services available in public cloud? 

First, it’s important to understand why the retailer initially chose F5 over native security tools available in public cloud. Here is some history…

Years ago, the retailer had moved its website traffic to a content delivery network (CDN) and utilized some of the security tools available there, such as web application firewall and distributed denial of service (DDoS). Shortly after the move to the CDN, it saw a significant increase in security incidents, as well as a major spike in its operating costs. This led the retailer to perform a proof of concept with F5’s Application Security Module (ASM), which it found provided the best application security with granular security controls, higher performance and the efficacy required for its heavily targeted environment.

Fast forward: the retailer worked with F5 to put in place a tailored enterprise license agreement (ELA) that provided increased flexibility and agility to license its F5 appliances. However, shortly after signing the F5 ELA, its demands for migrating workloads to public cloud quickly increased, and the retailer needed something more.

The F5 account team immediately engaged WWT. 

Through previous successful engagements together, the F5 team knew that only WWT could build a comprehensive enterprise automation solution for its customer, particularly in the 10-week window it had. 

WWT automation experts worked closely with F5 and the retailer’s networking and security teams to identify and prioritize challenges and objectives and establish solution groundwork.

Within just a couple of weeks, WWT and the F5 team delivered a highly scalable solution for targeted application environments to scale on demand. 

Once the project started, additional challenges arose as the customer increased the percentage of retail traffic it wanted to direct through the public cloud, which kept increasing demands for more appliances. Neither F5 nor the retailer had much experience with third-party automation tools such as Terraform and Ansible. Leveraging our close OEM partnerships, WWT engaged multiple automation experts and, working alongside the retailer’s automation team, was able to deliver the right solution. Notably, WWT then provided enablement services, training the retailer’s operation teams how to operationalize their environment and use the automation playbooks going forward.  

Outcomes

The retailer is now able to deliver hyperscale services in the cloud while maintaining consistent security policies across its multicloud environment. It can also easily provision underlying infrastructure by utilizing its F5 ELA and third-party automation tools to manage configurations across all environments.

WWT and F5 came together to quickly deliver a secure automation solution with enough flexibility and agility to support the retailer’s impending spike in holiday traffic and then some.

With these new automation capabilities, the retailer's IT teams no longer need to spend time provisioning and can instead focus on innovation and availability to effectively scale according to business needs. 

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