F5 Subject Matter Expert (SME) Vs F5 Engineer

f5 subject matter expert

Differences between F5 SME and F5 Engineer.

An F5 subject-matter expert (SME) or F5 expert for short is a professional who is an authority working with F5 Networks. There are some differences between a F5 Engineer position and an F5 SME.
The term SME has a broader definition in engineering and high tech as one who has the greatest expertise in a technical topic.

F5 SMEs are often asked to review, improve, and approve technical work; to guide others; and to teach. According to Six Sigma an SME “exhibits the highest level of expertise in performing a specialized job, task, or skill of broad definition.”

Whereas, the F5 engineer usually is well trained to troubleshooting and deploy products like BIG-IP LTM or BIG-IP DNS. The F5 SME has the knowledge and experience to work on the majority of modules offered by F5 Networks (ie APM, ASM, AFM, Cloud, etc) and not only LTM or DNS.


Although the F5 SME has the knowledge and experience to perform troubleshooting on F5 Networks’ products, this activity, at least at Level 1 and Level 2 is assigned to F5 Engineers.

On the scenarios where the F5 Engineer cannot resolve the issue itself, then it gets escalated to the F5 SME who will advise or get engage in the troubleshooting itself is necessary to resolve the problem at hand.

F5 irules


Other topic, where we can see a notorious difference between the F5 SME and the F5 Engineer is iRules and Scripting in General.
An iRule is a powerful and flexible feature of BIG-IP devices, based on F5’s exclusive TMOS architecture. iRules provide you with unprecedented control to directly manipulate and manage any IP application traffic.

iRules enables you to customise how you intercept, inspect, transform, and direct inbound or outbound application traffic. An important point about iRules is that they are based in the TCL scripting language.

F5 Engineers usually come from a pure Networking background and we often see the case, where they lack the programming background to work with iRules.

iRules development is within the Software Engineering field, designing and developing a Complex iRules to solve and issue or to fulfill a customers requirement is not too different to develop any other kind of software.

Therefore, the software engineering skills required for working with iRules are not easily find in a F5 Engineer resume. However, in order to become a F5 SME, iRules design, development and troubleshooting is likely one of the main requirements as is where we can see the full potential of products offered by F5 Networks.


On the same group as iRules, we have the iControl technology provided by F5 Networks. To find a F5 Specialist, with iControl experience is not easy task. iControl is a Web services-enabled open API providing granular control over the configuration and management of F5’s application delivery platform, BIG-IP. iControl, like other SOA and Web services-enabled solutions, can be used by virtually any platform capable of integrating via SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol).

It can be used to build custom management and monitoring applications, to integrate with business process management (BPM) and other workflow applications, and can be integrated directly into applications to provide better control over the delivery of the application.

It also integrates with virtual computing platform management tools, like VMware vCenter and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) to help orchestrate the automated provisioning and de-provisioning of applications that can be used to build private and public cloud computing environments. The iControl interfaces enable access, based on management access policies, to all configuration and management policies of F5’s application delivery platform.

Only those F5 SMEs with the highest level of expertise, or F5 Professional Services Consultants who work or have worked directly for F5 Networks reach the level of expertise required to be comfortable developing solutions with iControl.

Here at Austral Tech, as we have the level of expertise and years of experience developing software, we have developed our own product (ADCBOSS) which integrates heavily with F5 Products using the iControl API.


Another key point where we can see the difference between an F5 SME and an F5 Engineer, is the design of new solutions. The F5 SME, is a professional who usually has at least 10 years of experience working in IT and 5 years or more working exclusively with F5 Networks product.

This level of expertise and experience is what allows an F5 SME to design new solutions from the ground up, solving customers requirement in an efficient and cost effective way.

F5 certified specialist
f5 certified specialist


The F5 Networks Certification program offers IT credentials that help prepare folks to develop, deploy and support the company’s products and solutions. The three certifications in F5’s program include the following items:

  • F5 Certified BIG-IP Administrator (F5-CA)
  • F5 Certified Technology Specialist (F5-CTS)
  • F5 Certified Solution Expert (F5-CSE)

The F5 Engineers position will require usually to be certified at F5-CA and F5-CTS level. However, the F5 SME position requires the expert to reach the F5-CSE, F5 Certified Solution Expert level. The F5 Certified Solution Expert works with clients to identify security and technical business requirements, and then translates those requirements into solutions.

Candidates must have solution design experience that encompasses all relevant aspects of LTM, DNS, ASM and APM, as well as other F5 technologies such as BIG-IQ modules, MobileSafe, IP Intelligence (IPI) and WebSafe.


Migrating hundred of BIG-IP devices and applications is not an easy task. BIG-IP devices usually manage the most sensitive and critical applications for a client. We are talking applications that needs to be available 24/7, that is the principal reason they are using the F5 Products for!

The customer is looking close to 100% availability. Only F5 SME with top expertise, years of experience and several migration projects with different clients are qualified to perform these kind of projects.

Hire an F5 Subject Matter Expert

As you can see, to find and hire a F5 SME is not an easy task, as the set of skills, years of experience and combination of networking and programming background is hard to find in the industry.

If you are having a hard time finding an F5 Subject Matter Expert, then get in touch with us, we will help you with your requirements and rest assure you are working with certified professionals who has the years of experience and the skills required to make your project a success.