F5 introduces box-to-box Web acceleration

Software further speeds up Web transaction times

F5 Networks is upgrading software for its Big-IP gear so it can accelerate traffic between two of the devices rather than just between an individual user and a Big-IP Web Accelerator box.

The new capability makes it possible to further decrease response times between Web applications and users by putting a Big-IP accelerator at both ends of key connections, F5 says.

Previously, the devices sat in front of data centers and boosted server response time to individual computers gaining access to Web resources. With the new software release, the boxes can talk to each other and use further WAN acceleration techniques to improve the speed of transactions, the company says.

Other vendors such as Expand, Juniper, Packeteer, Riverbed and others have sold two-ended acceleration devices for years. The new capability for Packeteer is a result of its purchase two years ago of WAN acceleration vendor Swan Labs.

F5 customer Averitt Express, a trucking company, is considering installing extra F5 boxes at customer sites to boost response times to corporate Web applications hosted at the company's Cookville, Tennessee, headquarters. Averitt runs trucking operations for some of its clients, which requires frequent access to the Web applications by the customers and by Averitt employees stationed at customer sites, says Tim Saylor, director of IS for the company.

While the company has not tested the gear yet, Saylor says if the new software works as advertised, it could improve customer satisfaction, which is key. If customers don't renew their contracts it leaves Averitt with trucks and drivers it invested in just for that customer. By boosting response times, it could also help Averitt employees located at customer sites work more efficiently, he says.

The alternative to faster response times has been installing separate Internet connections at customer sites rather than relying on customers' sometimes inadequate connections, Saylor says.

He says the one-ended use of Big-IP boxes improves response times 60%, and expects the two-ended configuration will improve it even more.

The software upgrade is available now free to customers with service contracts. Additional Big-IP devices to support two-ended acceleration sell for their standard prices, US$40,000 for an appliance and $15,000 for a Web accelerator card.

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