NetWorld+Interop - Internet traffic management tools gain edge

Hedging its bets on a potential resource and application management gap for blade server environments, F5 Networks Inc. announced the availability of its BIG-IP Blade Controller for blade servers at NetWorld+Interop conference on Tuesday.

F5's BIG-IP Blade Controller software for server blades will provide traffic management to blade offerings from Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP)/Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., and RLX Technologies Inc., said Erik Giesa, director of product marketing for Internet traffic at Seattle-based F5.

F5 will, in order, follow up BIG-IP Blade Controller with similar blade server offerings for its wide-area load balancing, cache, and content controller products over the coming months, according to Giesa.

BIG-IP Controller is designed to ease architecture strain within a blade server environment by virtualizing individual blades and applications into a single interface capable of delivering traffic to the optimum performance server/application resource within a chassis, he added.

"Blade server platforms represent the consolidation of network applications and hardware and we're [vying to be] the glue that makes that work," said Giesa. "You need something to tie together individual discrete computing units into one, especially when you tie your applications into them. [Blade servers] are perfect for the deployment of Web-based applications and services."

Jarad Carleton, program leader for Internet infrastructure at San Jose, Calif.-based Frost and Sullivan, concurred, adding that the impending rise in prominence of blade servers should play a pivotal role in remaking the Web hosting market.

"[Blade servers] will enable Web hosting providers to pack more customers into a datacenter," said Carleton. "Right now the processing power isn't up to power with 1U servers, but that is something that is being worked on and resolved. That's the future of Web hosting."

Although its initial blade server push looks bright, Carleton did note that competition for F5 could quickly materialize from other hardware vendors such as Cisco.

To offer enhanced management with BIG-IP Blade Controller, Giesa said supporting server vendors are leveraging F5's open API and integrating their management consoles with the new software product. Thereby, a new service being provisioned will only require a new node for registration and delivery.

F5's BIG-IP Blade Controller will be available on May 20. The software product will initially support HP/Compaqs and RLX servers. Support will be extended to Fujitsu Siemens in July when the company releases its blade server, similar to Dell's release of its blade server and F5 support near September.

Giesa said an average configuration costs between US$15,000 to $20,000. Cost will increase depending on the number of blade servers deployed.

Additionally, Oracle this summer will announce that its 9i database will integrate with BIG-IP Blade Controller. Talks with IBM regarding support are ongoing, said Geisa.

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