Surprise: F5 is now a cloud company

Mobile World Congress, Barcelona — When most network architects think about F5 Networks they think load balancers and security solutions but not anymore. Over the last two years the company has been quietly reinventing itself as a cloud solutions vendor. Its specialty? Supporting software based webscale cloud infrastructure for the 5G core.

This has proven to be a successful strategy for F5. Verizon started using F5 cloud tech as the basis of its standalone (SA) 5G core at the end of 2022, and that service is now live in 20 markets. (Verizon’s 5G core also implements products from Wind River and the ubiquitous Red Hat).

F5 has also won two other customers with its cloud-native engine, it told Silverlinings here at MWC23: Rakuten Symphony and Softbank.

“This is definitely the future of our business,” Glenn Graham, product marketing manager at F5, told Silverlinings at MWC.

F5’s cloud infrastructure products allow ingress and egress into Kubernetes clusters, translating specialist Verizon telco protocols like stream control transmission protocol (SCTP) and Diameter into the cloud lingua franca and back again.

The company is also reengineering its existing IP capabilities, including Edge Firewall, DNS and Policy Enforcer, to run over a cloud-native core.

F5 is part of a slew of incumbent telco solutions providers, including Nokia, Cisco and Huawei, refocusing their portfolios on cloud. Their timing is apposite: cloud native and core 5G were by far the biggest stories at MWC, with product announcements and Tier 1 carrier deployments being announced left and right.

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