F5 Networks on March 5 will treat its activist customers to new innovations when it launches the next major version of its DevCentral online technical community site.
DevCentral, which already counts 14,000 registered users globally, adds new social networking functionality that draws on Web 2.0 technologies to further foster collaboration between members extending F5s product functionality through its iRules scripting language and iControl Application Program Interface and Software Development Kit.
DevCentral v4 now combines a range of Web 2.0 functions including wikis, video and podcasts, blogs and forums that include F5 and customer provided tips for both networking and application development.
"Web 2.0 technologies really have an impact on the way we reach out to customers. Web 2.0 and social networking is not just the domain of consumer technologies. The result of these efforts is community innovation," said Jeff Browning, director of product management at F5 Networks in Seattle.
New capabilities added for F5 customers in DevCentral v4 include expanded topic sections and forums on WAN optimization, SOA/Web services, remote access and security; geographical User Group sections, community feedback forums, an MVP program, Japanese language support and sample applications created by F5 and partners.
F5 also enhanced DevCentral for it channel partners with a broader ISV solutions section, a new Microsoft Solutions section and discussion forum, syndication of DevCentral content via RSS and better navigation for fast access to information.
"Were doing extensive amounts of RSS syndication to let technical users consume what they want [to better] deal with info overload, because they can filter what they want. So well have hundreds of RSS channels they can use," said Browning.
F5 in using wikis for its documentation on DevCentral quickly found how users can improve on its technology by applying their unique expertise.
"We created a rule that deals with the [Financial Information Exchange] protocol that helped users deal with a persistence issue. We received a notification from our wiki that someone updated that iRule sample and saw that it was another customer who changed the regular expression to make it more precise. That is powerful because academically we can research the FIX protocol and write iRules around it to help customers, but there still exists tribal knowledge from those that work in the trenches day to day who can share that expertise for a better solution," described Browning.
The new version of the site will go live on March 5.