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F5 Launches DevCentral-China, a New Online Community for Application Delivery IT Professionals

F5's acceleration solutions overcome the performance and cost challenges of delivering a collaborative experience to globally distributed users

F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV), the global leader in Application Delivery Networking, today announced its new DevCentral-China (DC-China) community, which extends F5's global online DevCentralsm community, comprised of more than 36,000 application developers, IT architects, and networking professionals, to China. This new site is available today at http://devcentral.f5.com/cn.

DevCentral offers a rich, collaborative environment that enables F5 customers and partners to expand the ways they use F5's industry-leading technology and benefit from each other's experiences and expertise. Through DevCentral, the F5 community actively shares networking and application development best practices in real time, using technologies like video, wikis, podcasts, forums, and free sample libraries.

Highlights of the New DC-China Community:

  • Discussion Forum - A new discussion forum devoted to the China community will facilitate extensive collaboration and problem-solving around F5's customizable iRules™ scripting language, as well as the advanced design and configuration of F5 Application Delivering Networking solutions such as the F5® BIG-IP® Local Traffic Manager™ product.
  • Tech Tips - Popular DevCentral Tech Tips are now available in Chinese, featuring useful guidance and sample iRules that enable DC-China members to incorporate innovative Application Delivery Networking solutions into their infrastructures.
  • Blogs - To keep current with all F5 news and technical topics in China, bloggers will post periodic updates for the community via DC-China blogs.

Delivering Rich Content and an Exciting User Experience 6,000 Miles Away

F5's vision of helping IT professionals worldwide through DevCentral's advanced social networking functionality can only be achieved by delivering rich social media and content quickly. Adoption falters if application users are subject to paralyzing performance or a lack of responsiveness. With over 6,000 miles separating China-based users from the primary DevCentral data centers, delivering excellent response for users was a real concern. F5 considered utilizing one of the traditional content delivery networks (CDNs), but found the cost prohibitive. Instead, it turned to an innovative use of its own BIG-IP WebAccelerator ™ technology to ensure fast performance for users across China. By taking this approach, F5 was able to resolve the typical performance hurdles that global IT organizations face when rolling out web applications and web 2.0 technologies to globally distributed audiences. F5's acceleration solution eliminated the need to build out a new data center in China, and avoided the necessity of engaging a costly, inflexible CDN supplier.

How It Happened - See IT in Play

Because F5 realizes that many organizations face similar challenges, whether supporting a global user community or deploying complex, web-enabled applications, DevCentral is launching a multi-part video series documenting the project. Starting Wednesday, February 18, viewers on DevCentral will gain useful and entertaining insight into the challenges and opportunities the team faced in deploying the China site. Entitled "F5 Real IT," this series will contain weekly episodes documenting the entire DC-China project and will also feature insightful interviews with experts as well as video blogs from the team. For details, please visit http://devcentral.f5.com and register to be notified when the first episode becomes available.

Facts and Quotes

China, the third largest economy in the world, represents a significant market and IT community. According to Gartner Research, China's expected IT spending will reach $235 billion by 2011*.

"We are thrilled to extend our global community to more closely involve China's talented IT professionals," said Jeff Browning, Director of Product Management at F5. "By providing localized, Chinese-language technical articles and discussion forums, DevCentral now enables Chinese members to better learn and collaborate. We anticipate tremendous enthusiasm from the Chinese technical community and look forward to a wide range of new conversations and contributions from a region that F5 values highly."

"Both consumers and business users increasingly expect to be able to access content and applications anytime, anywhere, from any device," said Lydia Leong, Research Director at Gartner. "As organizations expand into China, they're encountering a challenging network service provider ecosystem, as well as the inherent difficulties of the high latencies caused by distance."

"When we decided to extend our robust web application, DevCentral, to China, a large outlay of money was not an option," said John Matthews, VP of IT and CIO at F5. "Instead, we deployed F5's modular and intelligently scalable BIG-IP WebAccelerator solution at our office in China to ensure fast performance for DC-China members. Then, if DevCentral performance issues emerge in other regions, more low-cost deployments can be placed accordingly."

Deployment Details

F5 deployed the BIG-IP WebAccelerator solution in both symmetric and asymmetric modes to significantly impact the DC-China rollout.

Symmetric Acceleration:

F5 placed BIG-IP WebAccelerator devices in Beijing to pre-load, cache, and accelerate requests from China. By taking this approach, new user requests avoid the significant latency and packet loss associated with accessing the primary servers in North America. This approach, in effect, moves the site closer to the users for a fraction of the cost of deploying a new data center or relying upon cost-restrictive, complex CDN solutions that take control out of the hands of the application provider.

Benefit: In initial testing, new visitors experienced an 8x performance improvement in first-page load times for the DevCentral homepage and further reduction in page load speeds on return visits. The site also experienced significant improvements when loading files such as video, audio, and other types of rich content that are increasingly popular among users.

Asymmetric Acceleration:

F5 placed BIG-IP WebAccelerator modules on existing BIG-LTM devices used to provide high availability for DevCentral at each existing North American data center. By enabling asymmetric acceleration from these devices, F5 was able to more intelligently cache content, manage how browsers access DevCentral, and streamline the content, object, and page requests required to deliver static and dynamic content and media.

Benefit: In initial tests, users experienced a 10x performance improvement during repeat requests to the DevCentral homepage. Requests to other areas of the site experienced similar performance gains. Looking forward, the use of asymmetric acceleration on DevCentral will enable significant performance improvements for virtually all users around the globe.

The F5 Application Delivery Solution

The F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM™) and BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager ™ (GTM™) products provide the central foundation and granular control to ensure a seamless deployment of web acceleration technology in this solution. BIG-IP LTM is deployed as host for the BIG-IP WebAccelerator software module in F5's primary data centers, and it also handles the back-end functions when managing requests to the standalone version of BIG-IP WebAccelerator in F5's Beijing data center. Whether an acceleration deployment is asymmetric, symmetric, or combined, BIG-IP GTM ensures that client requests are sent to the appropriate destinations through tiered decision processes for optimal quality of service, advanced health monitoring, and interactive communication among all F5 products.

DC-China is available today and membership is free of charge.

About F5 Networks

F5 Networks is the global leader in Application Delivery Networking. F5 provides solutions that make applications secure, fast, and available for everyone. By adding intelligence and manageability into the network to offload applications and optimize the data storage layer, F5 extends the power of intelligent networking to all levels of application delivery. F5's extensible architecture optimizes applications, delivers application reliability, and protects the application and network. Enterprise organizations, service providers and Web 2.0 content providers worldwide trust F5 to keep their applications running. The company is headquartered in Seattle, Washington with offices worldwide. For more information, go to www.f5.com.

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