F5 Networks on January 29 marked a maturing in the fast growing market for Application Delivery Controllers when it launched a new high-end hardware platform and new release of its Big-IP software.
As customers scale the size of their ADC deployments and add more functions to the devices as well as bandwidth-intensive applications to the network, the need for more horsepower drove the Seattle company to beef up performance.
The new Big-IP 8800 hardware platform doubles the performance of F5 Networks existing high-end Big-IP 8400, racking up a list of faster speeds and feeds. The new hardware platform can handle up to 48,000 SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) transactions per second, provides up to 6 Gigabits per second of compression and supports 8 Gigabits per second of Layer 7 throughput, according to Phillip Pao, product manager in Seattle.
The platform can also handle up to 7.4 million SYN floods per second in a Distributed Denial of Service attack.
F5 Networks achieved those performance gains by implementing DDOS protection in its proprietary Packet Velocity ASIC 10 application specific integrated circuit—offloading that processing from the main processors. More importantly, F5 symmetrically load balances processing across four AMD processors in the core of the Big-IP 8800, thanks to the modularity of its TMOS (Traffic Management Operating System).
"We leveraged the [AMD] chip to load balance so that each processor at any time is fully utilized. Others are less efficient if theyre not doing symmetric processing," said Pao.
Two trends are converging to boost performance requirements for customers: the "explosion of traffic" from bandwidth-intensive or latency-sensitive applications such as voice and video over IP and applications that use the "chatty" XML protocol, and the implementation of more performance boosting functions in a single device, according to Pao.
"Were seeing more functionality on a single platform with acceleration, SSL encryption, compression, caching, application security firewalling and basic load balancing. The more you do requires more CPU on your platform to handle all that work," Pao added.
In the new 9.4 release of the Big-IP software, F5 addressed the long lag time in rolling out new applications. As application managers seek to make minor changes to the configuration of Big-IP as they test new applications they are rolling out into production, currently they must wait for as long as a week for over-burdened network managers to make those changes.
F5 added user partitioning to the software, allowing network operators to give those application owners limited access to Big-IP configuration to execute the changes themselves. Such functionality can also be extended to security departments.
"User virtualization allows you to virtualize just what [the application owners] care about so they can self-serve, rather than waiting for a network guy to provision a change," said Pao. "Virtualization creates a safe sandbox. You can define how much power you have to change objects just within your sandbox [partition]."
F5 in the new release also added support for three new protocols, allowing Big-IP controllers to load balance applications across IBM mainframes and other application environments.
The new Big-IP 8800, priced at $89,995, is available now along with Big-IP version 9.4 software.