February 26, 2001, 3:23 PM — Switch maker F5 Networks last week upgraded its Internet traffic, content and network management products that could give users better ways to speed and manage their e-commerce infrastructure.
The announcement includes upgrades to F5's load-balancing platform, 3-DNS Controller; its content management products, Edge-FX Cache and Global-Site Content Controller; and its network management software, See-IT. F5 offers two load balancers, Big-IP for LANs and 3-DNS for WANs.
F5 also announced plans to offer a software development kit, called iControl SDK, which integrates with its traffic-management products and could let users monitor hardware and software. To that end, F5 plans to partner with hardware and software application vendors such as Dell, EMC, Microsoft and Oracle. Using iControl with F5's Big-IP load balancer, an end user could balance Web traffic loads across Microsoft Application Center clusters and monitor and control performance using information that iControl gives them. F5's Big-IP load-balancing appliance typically sits in front of a Web server farm, distributing requests for content based on factors such as server availability and request type.
F5's plans to give users the ability to get to applications they are using gives it at least a temporary edge over competitors such as Cisco and Nortel Networks, according to Jupiter Communications analyst Peter Christy. Using iControl to automatically recognize network devices could save network managers the hassle of configuring those devices to work with load balancers.
Other features on F5's 3-DNS Controller, which also provides load balancing, include the ability to perform content peering and traffic redirection when content is being updated. The content-peering feature lets users direct traffic based on an end user's country of origin.
F5 has also enhanced its Edge-FX Cache, which sits in front of a Web-server farm, to work with its Global-Site Content Controller Management software so users can refresh content across their networks automatically. Cache devices such as Edge-FX, which store content, let users serve pages to surfers more quickly than Web servers, which have to construct content requests on the fly.
Enhancements to F5's See-IT network management software include the ability to let users gather data on their load balancers and caches. See-IT now gives network managers the ability to get performance reports for Big-IP load balancers that work in pairs or individually.
F5's 3-DNS Controller is available now and costs $34,990; Edge-FX Cache is also available now and costs $9,990. Global-Site is available now and costs $29,990, and See-It Network Manager is also available and costs from $9,990 to $49,990, depending on the configuration.