Application Delivery Networking (ADN) vendor F5 Networks has developed a solution to load balance traditional database applications across data centers. In this product spotlight article, learn what F5 Networks' Application Ready Solution for Oracle Database is and what it means to wide area network (WAN) managers. Plus, find out why analyst Tom Nolle says that as good as F5 Networks' solution is, a solution that load balances virtualized Oracle databases across data centers might prove more useful.
What is F5 Networks' Application Ready Solution for Oracle Database technologies?
The Application Ready Solution for Oracle Database technologies is a set of networking tools from F5 Networks that can accelerate network traffic to and from the database tier. F5 specifically designed the product suite to optimize application delivery for Oracle Corporation's flagship product, Oracle Database.
The F5 Oracle solution includes the following additions and upgrades to current F5 Networks appliances:
- BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM). F5 has enhanced its local, full-proxy application delivery controller for database operations and management with new database management tools that improve database health monitoring and respond quickly to wide area network outages.
- BIG-IP® WAN Optimization Module™ (WOM). F5's WOM is a software module that runs on top of F5's core BIG-IP hardware platform. WOM optimizes TCP and does data compression, SSL encryption and data replication. It can reduce bandwidth consumption while encrypting database traffic. According to F5 Networks' senior business development manager, Ron Carovano, "You can do this on the data servers or offload it on our device."
- BIG-IP® Global Traffic Manager™ (GTM). For organizations that are building a globally distributed application and database architecture, F5 Networks' global application delivery controller uses DNS to manage traffic across data centers. It automatically directs users to the nearest or best-performing data center for failover and disaster recovery purposes. It's sold by itself or as a product module for BIG-IP. Used in combination with the VIPRION (below), BIG-IP LTM and BIG-IP WOM, it adds redundancy to database replication.
- VIPRION. VIPRION is F5 Networks' chassis-based application delivery controller which allows customers to scale their application delivery network by adding blades. In combination with the BIG-IP GTM, the VIPRION can improve user response time and application performance while creating redundancy and optimizing database replication.
- BIG-IP® Application Security Manager™ (ASM). In order to secure applications and data, this module "works with Oracle Database products to correlate application and database security events, unify security information management, and protect applications and databases from unauthorized access," according to F5 Networks' website.
Why does F5 Networks' Application Ready Solution for Oracle Database matter to WAN managers?
F5 Networks has enhanced its products for Oracle Database, which offers new options for business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) products to network engineers who are developing WAN disaster recovery plans. These products could help WAN managers meet their recovery point objectives for Oracle Database deployments and allow them to deliver high availability (HA) Oracle-based applications. Where the F5 Networks' Application Ready Solution truly delivers value is in optimizing traffic to and from Oracle Database.
"There's not a graceful way to failback from an active stack to a standby stack," said Carovano. F5 now offers that capability with its new release.
Are there any drawbacks to F5 Networks' Oracle Database optimization?
Although no other vendor has optimized the database layer to date, vendors such as Cisco and Juniper could argue that they don't need to. CIMI Corporation president Tom Nolle explained that databases are becoming a resource that enterprises can virtualize. Amazon's cloud-distributable database is one example. If an application draws on virtualized database resources from a cloud platform, then it won't need to optimize databases at the switching level, he said. Instead, enterprises could optimize database performance via resource virtualization at the platform layer.
"What F5 has done is a good thing. It's an extension to their current strategy...Personally, I'd rather see F5 working more on cloud and virtualization strategies than something like this, because I think that cloud and virtualization strategies represent their biggest opportunity and their biggest risk," Nolle said.
This is why a company with a virtualization or cloud strategy in place could be better off waiting for another solution to optimize database resources. However, no other solution in the market exists, and while enterprise IT should always future-proof networks, F5 Networks has a readily-available solution today.
F5 Networks' Application Ready Solution for Oracle Database pricing and availability
F5 solutions for Oracle Database start at $17,995 for the Local Traffic Manager running on the BIG-IP 1600 product platform. While buying the F5 Networks solution might require some savings to start, it's not a forklift upgrade. The F5 Networks products are interoperable, not just with each other, but with other vendors -- especially Cisco -- although WAN managers looking to create a hybrid network should be more careful with configurations.
The solution has been available as of September 21, 2010. For more information on the product, visit F5's website: Oracle Database solution.