F5, CacheFlow pump up content-delivery lines

By Phil Hochmuth, Network World |  Networking

F5 Networks next week will announce a new version of its BIG-IP Controller that adds content switching as well as quality-of-service and application monitoring to its Internet traffic management box.

Separately, CacheFlow will show off a content-caching product bundle designed to help companies exploit streaming-media technology.

Both companies will debut their offerings at NetWorld+Interop 2001 in Las Vegas.

F5's BIG-IP Controller 4.0 is designed to help enterprise network users make their Web sites or critical intranet applications more available to users, while allowing companies to monitor the usage of their sites or applications.

The box competes with load-balancing, Web switching and caching products from CacheFlow, Cisco, Nortel Networks, Top Layer and others.

Version 4.0 includes new technology that works with the HTTP 1.1 keep-alive features native to Web servers to consolidate requests for multiple Web page objects into one TCP connection. This process is aimed at squeezing bandwidth usage and reducing the risk of a server crash due to an overload of TCP connections.

Version 4.0 also combines the BIG-IP's local load-balancing capabilities with the WAN load-balancing technology of F5's 3DNS, previously a stand-alone product. 3DNS can be used to redirect Web traffic to a back-up domain when a site becomes overwhelmed.

The ability to monitor traffic patterns for Web applications with BIG-IP 4.0 is important to Brian Terry, vice president of IT at People's Bank in Bridegport, Conn. People's is the largest bank in Connecticut and one of the biggest issuers of credit cards in the U.S. Terry has used BIG-IP for several years to load balance his servers and plans on employing application monitoring with a credit card intranet database used by the bank's customer service representatives.

"We're implementing some QoS on that [intranet] application, and it will be nice to monitor that and see if [QoS] is performing the way it's supposed to," Terry says.

BIG-IP 4.0 costs $10,000 for the basic version (Layer 4 load balancing only) and $47,250 for the enterprise version, which includes Layer 7 Web switching and application performance monitoring tools.

CacheFlow's starter kit

Separately, CacheFlow's latest effort is to help companies ease into streaming media. The company's caching devices are designed to house streaming-media content as close as possible to end users in order to conserve on net bandwidth usage and speed content delivery.

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