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F5 ADC Release Features Template-Driven App Deployment, Appliance Clustering

The newest version of F5 Networks' BIG-IP application delivery controller (ADC) platform features a simplified, template-driven interface for faster deployment and easier management of applications, as well as clustering technology to improve scalability and availability. Version 11 of the BIG-IP TMOS software also provides several enhanced security features.

With this release of TMOS, F5 introduces what it calls iApps, templates that can associate application services and policies to define how applications will be delivered and managed across large, distributed environments, independent of specific devices and objects. In this way, enterprises will be able to rapidly apply process, traffic handling and security configuration rules to quickly provision new applications, modify existing applications, and/or change the way applications are distributed and managed. Previously, F5 assembled all this information into complex configuration guides that helped reduce deployment time, but were still complex and error-prone.

"iApps get us away from deployment guides," says Jason Needham, F5 director of product management. "Instead, you have a native object in the system to calculate all application-specific configurations, reduce deployment time and make them portable like virtual machines."

TMOS 11 bundles iApps for several popular commercial applications, including Microsoft Exchange Outlook Web Access, SharePoint and IIS; BEA WebLogic; SAP; Oracle Application Server; and VMware VDI. Enterprises can build iApps for custom applications, as well. F5’s iRules configuration and scripting engine is still under the hood, but enterprises can now build iApps to expose only those elements specific to their business needs.

"With ADCs, the hard part is tweaking to make sure you’re optimized for the application you are running," says Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravla. "It can take months. Do you want to use SSL? How do you set up authentication? How does traffic flow? What kind of database? Lots of security settings--things that make every environment unique. With iApps, it can take a couple of days."

The new Device Service Cluster technology allows for transparent sharing of applications across BIG-IP appliances for greatly improved scalability, not only within data centers but across multiple data centers. With the new release, F5 emphasizes what it calls an application control plane architecture, based on the ability to apply iApps across devices, objects and data centers, and the clustering technology. In addition to scale, new high-availability features allow applications that experience problems on a blade on one appliance to fail over to a blade on another, rather than failing over the entire appliance with its multiple blades and applications. The ability to work over multiple data centers also adds important business continuity and disaster
recovery capabilities.

"F5 has built in a level of scalability and resilience you've never had in ADCs before," says Kerravala.

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