F5 BIG-IP Review

Very easy to deploy, use, and manage to reduce downtime and improve resource utilization


What is our primary use case?

The primary use cases are application load balancing and as a web application firewall.

How has it helped my organization?

We resell F5 as partners. Our customers have a clear business case to reduce downtime, improving resource utilization.

The major applications that front-end core banking for most banks and Microsoft Exchange were experiencing performance challenges without F5. After front-ending these applications through an application delivery controller with F5, most of the performance issues went away.

What is most valuable?

It is very intuitive, easy to deploy, and manage.

The solution's capabilities has been most instrumental in supporting our customers. I find it reliable. Once it is configured, and up and running, then there usually is no downtime.

In terms of performance, we have seen a drastic difference without F5, then with it. If you run the same application from users to the server when there wasn't F5, there were delays. With F5, users can see a remarkable performance difference from a qualitative sense.

What needs improvement?

Implementing whitepapers with a lot more applications could easily be added.

This project is missing some relevant features: 

  1. We set up the customer through the load balancer.
  2. Then once it is there and functional, then the next step is to add the web application firewall on the same boxes. 

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Not with the GA versions. Obviously, the betas are not that stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

When you enable the web application firewall on the same platform, it requires more resources. If the use case is only for load balancing, but the customers using both load balancing as well as web application firewall, the sizing has to be done correctly.

How is customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good and up to mark. 

There is a challenge in Pakistan. This is when there is a hardware failure. Sometimes, it takes more time to get a replacement because it is sent out from the U.S. or some other regional outpost. Thus, it takes two to three days to receive a replacement.

Which solutions did we use previously?

A few of our customers were using Brocade, Citrix NetScaler, or A10. We moved them to F5, because there were more customer references available for F5 in our country and the support structure was better.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward in GUI. It was not complex.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is the best solution, but that comes with an increased price.

Try to negotiate all the software features that you require upfront. E.g., if you need three different software features and a web application firewall, then try to log the prices initially when you are buying the initial solution, even if you are not buying some of the software but at least log the prices for features.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our customers normally evaluate others too and shortlist F5 based on ease of use.

What other advice do I have?

It is best of the breed, or best in class. Our experience has been very good, in terms of performance, and securing our application infrastructure.

I strongly recommend the product, but through an experienced partner.

With these type of application delivery controller projects, the application teams have a significant role. It is networking team plus the application team. With better coordination between all the different teams who are engaged, project execution will go more smoothly.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We resell F5 as partners.
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