F5 Networks Bolsters Virtual Server Management

Leading provider of application delivery networking devices announces integration with Microsoft System Center

Application delivery networking (ADN) company F5 Networks has been discussing its latest application and network performance optimization solutions at the Microsoft Tech Ed North America 2010 Conference, being held in New Orleans this week. The company is placing specific emphasis on Microsoft's hybrid on-premise and cloud application development strategy, providing solutions that enable rich control and automation of virtual servers in cloud and data center environments.

James Hendergart, business development manager at F5 Networks, said network-dependent applications, such as those that live on the cloud, can be tricky to monitor.

"When you are monitoring an application, understanding what is happening on the network may be completely out of scope or out of the realm of what the application can acknowledge," Hendergart said, noting that network activity "is not core to what the application is trying to achieve."

F5 Networks aims to address this fundamental disconnect by enabling intelligent, integrated and automated management of virtual machine in data center and cloud environments.

F5's Virtual Refresh

F5 Networks has announced a pair of efforts around its BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager Virtual Edition line of devices. In June, the company released version 2.0 of its Management Packs for Microsoft System Center, addressing management of virtual servers in the Operations Manager and Virtual Machine Manager modules of System Center. F5 Management Packs are PowerShell scripts that define how an application or device is monitored on the network.

Hendergart said the Management Packs streamline provisioning and load balancing of virtual machines (VM), enabling live migration of VMs between physical servers to eliminate costly downtime.

"If you are moving a VM from one machine to another, you don't want to have any downtime," Hendergart said. "You can deploy these new VM instances all very quickly and at the same time without making it a separate process."

F5 also announced that it is integrating its wares with Microsoft's recently-released Dynamic Datacenter Toolkit (DDTK), which streamlines the provisioning and deployment of virtual machines in a private cloud. The freely available toolkit provides a Web front-end and backend database with business logic, enabling companies to manage and deploy an inventory of VM images using Internet Information Server and SharePoint, Hendergart said.

F5's Management Pack scripts will surface in the DDTK interface, according to the company. F5 has also integrated DDTK support into its BIG-IP load balancing devices, enabling DDTK users to conduct add/remove and enable/disable node activities from the DDTK user interface. F5 announced that it will release its integrated produce at the end of June.

Integrated management and backend resources enable on-demand resource allocation and automated removal and deployment of virtual machines, said Hendergart.

"It's the ability to pool, allocate and manage," said Hendergart. "This Management Pack framework has a number of tools in it, which include network triggered systems management. Anything found in a network packet can be used to trigger an event in System Center."

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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