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F5 Networks on Monday continued its leapfrog game with competitors in the application delivery arena when it introduced a new 10G-bps hardware platform, a next-generation global link controller, and support for monitoring and managing traffic from loosely coupled Web services applications.

F5’s news, coming on the heels of competitor Foundry Networks’ launch of its next-generation 10G-bps application delivery controller, includes what officials claim is a new hardware platform capable of delivering 10G bps of load balancing capacity for high-volume applications.

The new Big-IP 8400 platform, intended for large enterprises, telecommunications companies and service providers, leverages new proprietary-application-specific integrated circuits that reduce the number of packets that traverse internal networks and allow the platform’s CPU to process Layer 7 traffic more efficiently.

Click here to read a Q&A with F5’s CEO, John McAdam.

Large enterprises can more easily consolidate data centers by reducing the number of traffic management devices with the new platform.

“If you can get away with fewer devices, life is good,” said Joe Skorupa, an industry analyst with Gartner Inc. “It reduces the number of switch ports [and] simplifies the topology in the data center.”

Both the Foundry and the F5 news presage much more 10G-bps activity from vendors coming later in this quarter, according to Skorupa. “But you also have to look at how they’re scaling the number of new SSL [Secure Sockets Layer] connections per second. Just because you increase the pipe doesn’t mean you get three times as many SSL connections,” he said.

F5 in its new Big-IP Global Traffic Manager re-architected its former 3-DNS (Domain Name System) appliance to exploit F5’s TMOS (Traffic Management Operating System).

It allows users to bind together interdependent services by building a list of dependencies across the services, and then it adds high availability, persistence and maintenance on top of that.

“This brings a new level of intelligence needed to manage and track loosely coupled application services to ensure that the application as a whole can perform really well,” said Satya Vardharajan, F5 product manager in Seattle.

Click here to read about next-generation ethernet switches from Foundry Networks.

F5 also added a new DNS management utility, dubbed Zone Runner, which simplifies DNS zone management through a new graphical user interface.

“Zone Runner is the only integrated DNS management tool in the market. We’re flexible enough to be complementary to existing IP address-management solutions, or we can be an authority DNS Server for any business and handle global load balancing and DNS Zone aspects,” Vardharajan said.

The new Big-IP Link Controller is intended for small and midsize enterprises that need to ensure greater available of WAN ISP links without the expense and expertise necessary to create links across multiple ISPs.

“The [Big-IP] Link Controller is a cost-effective alternative to [implementing Border Gateway Protocol] for SMBs,” Vardharajan said. “The customer is at the mercy of the ISP to get the performance they want. The next generation of Link Controller is about unifying link availability and optimization on a single platform, so the customer can move past ISP availability issues and tackle link performance problems and not have to add more bandwidth to solve link performance problems.”

The Big-IP Link Controller, also rearchitected for F5’s TMOS, provides compression, rate shaping and TCP optimization.

All three offerings are available now.

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