Launches security, load balancing and application acceleration bundle
F5 Networks Inc has filled out its BIG-IP application delivery controller with new features that collapse different load balancing, security and acceleration services onto a single system.
Announcing BIG-IP v10, the company said the system would unify application security, optimisation, and acceleration onto a single device, paving the way for enterprises and service providers to establish a more dynamic IT infrastructure.
Lots of organisations are now looking very hard at virtualisation, software-as-a-service and the potential of cloud computing, Jason Needham, Director of Product Management for F5 explained. “F5’s technology has become a key delivery point for scaling out these types of data centre services” he claimed.
Being able to put together a dynamic infrastructure that is optimised for application delivery has become make or break for them, he said.
Asked about the significance of today’s announcement, Needham said, “Streamlining the application delivery functions by unifying more than one service onto a single system improves the return on investment.” With the BIG-IP v10 software release, F5 estimates it possible to save more than 50% on hardware, power, space and cooling costs, by consolidating the application delivery infrastructure three to one.
The company said that the BIG-IP LTM load balancer, its BIG-IP WebAccelerator and BIG-IP Application Security Manager modules now all run natively on F5’s operating system, giving customers the means to secure and accelerate web applications on a single BIG-IP device.
F5 is following a strategy of optimising the application infrastructure from the core of the datacenter to the edge of the network, with high level switches that allow network managers make policy decisions about application acceleration, load balancing and security across their local and wide area network infrastructure.
It competes mainly against Cisco Systems, but also comes up against a company like Blue Coat Systems, which is moving into this area from its origins in the security and web filtering segment. About 20% of F5 customers are managed service suppliers and telcos, around 20% are content providers and web companies, but the main stay is the large enterprise.
The F5 product line has been developed to support a shift in enterprise architecture where traditional data-centric networks are being replaced with a virtual, dynamic infrastructure that supports users and applications regardless of where they sit on or off the network.
The BIG-IP v10 software adds some new controls to F5’s application delivery networking solution that are intended to let an administrator provision a different amount of resource to each application or service being managed from the box. “That’s a pretty unique feature” said Needham, “and helps businesses consolidate their application infrastructure without comprising performance.”
Something F5 calls i-Sessions, which allows any two BIG-IP load balancing devices to be deployed symmetrically to create a secure site-to-site connection, will also help squeeze more out of the WAN, Needham told us. “It means large data sets can be transferred between two F5 devices across the WAN in the most efficient way.” It will help improve transfer rates and reduce bandwidth consumption.
Version 10 also comes with an assortment of templates are designed to simplify the creation of profiles, policies, and other pertinent configuration parameters needed for the control of applications such as Microsoft SharePoint 2007, and SAP ERP or the VMware View virtual desktop system. Needham said, “The system can take a policy and deploy a virtual desktop array in seconds, it will configure the network and manage the server offload policy and the acceleration policy to ensure optimised performance at every end point.”