A10 Networks Thunder ADC Review

Looking back at traffic flow data helps us with troubleshooting


What is our primary use case?

The A10s that we have in Florida are being used for load balancing. We have a pair of A10s there, an active and a standby, and we are balancing the traffic between. We also use our A10s, in general, for provisioning wireless products. Eventually, we will use our new A10s for more stuff.

Our applications are hosted in a private on-premises data center, on public cloud in AWS, and in a hybrid cloud which is primarily public infrastructure.

Among our biggest security concerns are malicious code and DDoS attacks.

What is most valuable?

We use the monitoring features and security features. The solution will tell us if someone tries to use the wrong password or to hack into the system. We do have firewalls in place so no incoming traffic from the outside can get in. Our firewall blocks everything coming in from the outside, but we can go out to our network.

We use the diagnostics to debug files and, when there is a problem, we can generate a file that we can send to our NOC engineers so they can take a look at it.

We also use the login resource usage which gives us a summary and graphs of services — when things are going down and are up.

The ADCs are pretty straightforward and easy to use. There is a GUI base where you can go in and see everything, but they also have a CLI base where you can use a command and get the information that you want, very fast. You log into the website with the A10 GUI and you can see all of your functions and your health monitor, which is very important. With the health monitor you can see the health of the switch and, if something is going on, how it's progressing. Also upgrading the GUI is very easy. It's user-friendly.

The traffic management is very good. I can monitor the traffic that comes into the A10 very easily. We balance traffic between the active blade and the standby blade. The traffic management is holding its load properly and its balancing properly. It's very good.

In terms of the traffic flow management capabilities, there are graphs that you can look at as you enable them. You can look back at live data for the last 30 minutes and it's very good. I like it. You can manage your traffic easily and you can troubleshoot because, if you look back at your data for the past two weeks, you can see if something was flipping. It's a good feature.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement in the upgrading process. Sometimes we have to contact A10 for verification of some stuff.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have had A10s for about 10 or 12 years, in our Florida market. Our company merged with two other companies, so we inherited som A10s. Those are in Florida and those are the ones we have had for 10 or 12 years. They are TH3030S models.

We also purchased an A10 about a year ago and just finished configuring it, although it's not in full usage yet. This one is a TH4430S.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, the stability has been very good. We haven't had much of a problem.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As I said, we don't use them for too much, just for load balancing and our 911 service. We have different internal switches that are connected to the A10 to load-balance the traffic, so we don't use the A10s 100 percent but between 20 and 50 percent for now. But as time goes by we are going to be using them more.

We currently have about 25 to 30 people who log into it to do provisioning on a daily basis. 

As for our plans to implement technologies or strategies in the next three years, we may look at moving from hardware appliances to software/scale-out solutions. Our company is always looking at new solutions to meet market needs. We will also look at multi-cloud failover, upgrading from TLS/SSL capabilities to modern PFS/ECC encryption standards, and moving applications to the public cloud.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have used their tech support a few times. They're quick to answer the call and they respond to you in a timely manner. Their engineers are pretty good. They will join a WebEx session and look into the switch for you and try to resolve your problems. They resolve issues in a timely manner.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used F5 BIG-IPs. The switch to ADC was an upper-level decision. They wanted to change because things were outdated and it had to do with contracts and the like.

The things we consider most important when funding new technology are revenue generation, customer satisfaction, operational improvement, accelerating development speed, and business advantages from new technology.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was very straightforward but it depends on the solutions you are using in your environment.  In our network we don't configure all the features because we are not using them as yet, but it's very straightforward to configure them.

In our department, setup takes six to seven months, including getting the ADCs, racking and stacking them, and configuring them. Our organization has a standardized, tailored deployment strategy, where we have our own config, but it has to be coordinated with our other switches.

We have four to five people involved in the deployment of the solution. Our local engineers will install it, power it up, and give us a remote connection and then I, as a network engineer, will get in remotely and configure it.

What other advice do I have?

It's very simple to use, as long as you understand the engineering technology behind it. I would advise going with it. Make sure you have the GUI feature on it so that you can go in and do quick, at-a-glance monitoring.

The solution is good for load-balancing your traffic. We don't want to overload other switches, so we pass traffic through the A10 and load-balance it. It also helps us to troubleshoot issues within our network.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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