F5 BIG-IP Review

It can determine if the system is going down, then route the traffic somewhere else

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for load balancing and security.

When someone requests data through the load balancer, we pull the certificate name out to identify who that person is. This is one of the things that F5 does. We haven't able to replicate this so far with the Amazon products. That is why we are going to F5.

How has it helped my organization?

It has the ability to do the security work that we need along with the current thing which is supporting the load balancer. Therefore, it can determine if the system is going down, then route the traffic somewhere else.

It does what we need.

What is most valuable?

We had a problem where customers were doing transactions in our system, pulling health records, and the system had to be shut down for maintenance. Unfortunately, we wouldn't know that the system was being shut down, and we would lose that information. Then, the customer would get upset.

Using the F5, we were able to build rules to detect that the shutdown was occurring, then begin to route people elsewhere, so we didn't have any outages or downtime. This made customers a lot happier, and it made us a lot happier.

What needs improvement?

They could improve the product's ease of use. There has been a bit of complication on some things from the admin side. There is some confusion how to operate it.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I don't think too much stress placed on it. In F5 Studio, the stability been very good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We run 14 servers. We get up to about half a million transactions an hour, and the scalability has been good. It has not been a problem.

How is customer service and technical support?

I would rate the technical support as a five out of ten. Our admin had to learn everything and do it himself. He seems to have had difficultly at times with the tech support. However, this may be a manifestation of the fact the government bought it, but didn't buy the support.

How was the initial setup?

The integration and configuration of this product were pretty good. Once you get going, it gets easier to use.

It works with Red Hat JBoss application server, and it integrates reasonably well.

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

It is sort of a commodity product. A load balancer is a load balancer. What will be, at the end of the day, the cheapest option or have the best performance, that is what it will come down to. Can it do the necessary performance that we need, and if so, is there a cheaper alternative? If not, then we'll stick with what we have.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also evaluated some free stuff on the AWS Marketplace, or some cheaper stuff. We also looked at the Amazon offerings, like the Elastic Load Balancing.

The customer wanted to take what they had on-premise and put it in Amazon: full stop. Because we could obtain the certifications for security and the existing Amazon products didn't do 100 percent of what F5 did, they didn't want us to change any code. They just wanted us to keep going the way we were. This is the reason why we pulled F5 over.

What other advice do I have?

Try doing a proof of concept or a prototype, before you go full in on a load balancer, to make sure it does everything you need.

We have both the AWS and on-premise versions. We used the on-premise version to compare it to what Amazon had to offer. 

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

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