A10 appliances gain new management options

* A10 Networks debuts upgraded line of AX Series traffic-management devices

A10 Networks this week released new versions of its AX Series load balancing appliances with an eye toward delivering more flexible configuration options and making it easier for companies to tie into third-party management applications.

Watch a slideshow with A10's product along with other new products that came out that week.

On the application acceleration front, A10 beefed up its RAM caching features and upped its hardware compression throughput with an optional hardware-based compression add-on for its AX devices. The upgrades also include new policy options for A10’s global server load balancing functions and an updated GUI designed to streamline administrative tasks.

New partition-based management features let administrators configure different server load balancing configurations on the same appliance and provide role-based access to those setups. “Really what it’s doing is carving up the AX to make it look like separate appliances from a management point of view,” says Paul Nicholson, senior product marketing manager at A10.

“What you can do is carve off, say, a SharePoint and an SAP implementation on the same box, and define a number of resources like the real servers and virtual IPs and other typical stuff you do with a load balancer. Then you can give full admin control of one set of resources to a particular administrator, while you retain overall control as the network guy,” Nicholson says.

Partition administrators can see only the set of resources each is responsible for, he says. By dividing an AX appliance into partitions, companies can avoid buying dedicated AX devices for each application. “If you’ve got three or four applications that aren’t very high volume and can easily be accommodated by one of the AX devices, you can effectively split it up into three or four different virtual load balancers,” Nicholson says.

Another key new feature is an API designed to make it easier for administrators to tie their AX appliances to in-house and other third-party applications. Called aXAPI, the new API is a REST (Representational State Transfer)-style XML interface, according to A10.

“With the REST-style API, commands are in effect almost preprogrammed,” Nicholson says. “You can just put one line in a URL format, and when our box receives it, we know what information to send back because it’s been preprogrammed in there.”

That kind of programming simplicity resonates with users.

"A10's aXAPI within the AX Series server load balancers allows our developers to remotely perform or automate tasks, such as adding and removing servers as needed," said Derek Hill, director of IT for online postal-mail service Earth Class Mail, in a statement. "The beauty of A10's approach is that it is a REST-based API versus other more complicated approaches. This requires less of a learning curve, is easier to understand and enables integration between the applications and the networking equipment."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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