New v10 Evaluation Licensing Puts New Functionality at Your Finger Tips

A significant benefit of F5 products and TMOS is that you can add product functionality from F5 as software modules to your existing BIG-IP devices. The devices (many of your refer to them as “F5s” and “loadbalancers”) can do much more than your classic round-robin loadbalancing. However, a common question I’ve heard from many users has been, “but how can I try these advanced features to see if they help?”

With v.10, the ability to trial new software modules and bundles is completely redesigned to let you try specific functionality easily without having to reallocate a precious BIG-IP to do so. Have you ever wondered how much Web Accelerator can improve web application performance for your global sales force automation app in a production environment? Have you wanted to try the Application Security Manager for public-facing web apps despite not being able to beg, borrow, or steal a BIG-IP device out of production in order to install an Evaluation BRK to test things out?

Now, you can try and test these options (and more) by simply obtaining an Evaluation Module Add-on key for your existing system via the F5 licensing page. With a simple activation of the Add-on key, the new functionality will be enabled and the existing perpetual license key on your BIG-IP will remain operational. Once the evaluation key expires, functionality for that specific module will expire and the existing perpetual licensing scheme (and ongoing operation of your BIG-IP) will continue as previously configured.

Evaluating the Web Accelerator Module
Here at DevCentral, we have been active users of Web Acclerator, in both asymmetric and symmetric deployments. More users than we realized - from around the world - were experiencing painfully slow pageload speeds. With some quick tests of Web Accelerator utilizing relatively standard, out-of-the-box acceleration policies, we were able to reduce pageload speeds on repeat visits by nearly 10x. This is a huge improvement without much tuning beyond turning the module on.

For more details about how the DevCentral Team has benefitted from using Web Accelerator, check out the ongoing “Real IT” video series. The videos and interviews with F5 acceleration experts will show you how Web Accelerator works and how it will likely help you, just as it helped us.

With the new Evaluation Licensing in v.10, you now have to ability to test modules such as Web Accelertor - in production without having to reconfigure your BIG-IP - and get immediate feedback on how this module can help you.

Not sure how or where to get started with Web Accelerator? Visit the Web Accelerator Forum to post your questions and share ideas.


Historically, evaluation in a production environment or at sites without dedicated F5 test gear represented a challenge due to the way registration keys were handled. BIG-IPs and the TMOS licensing scheme were able to run either the standard, perpetual license keys or a dedicated, base registration key (BRK) for evaluation, this effectively turned the platform into a dedicated evaluation device, even if simply testing a single module. After the eval was complete, the device had to be reconfigured to a production state.

The new approach will make it much easier for you to try out new features and learn how they may help your existing application delivery while reducing the complexity and time hassles that were part of evaluation in previous versions. It is also important to remember that full functionality will be available to you during the evaluation cycle. So, while you’re trying out the new features, you can take advantage of the DevCentral Forums to post questions and get ideas from others already using the modules.

For those of you that absolutely must know what is and is not running on the BIG-IP, the new “Summary” tab in the System>Licensing portion of the GUI will be incredibly helpful. In previous versions, functionality that was not operational was hidden from view. In v.10, this page provides a comprehensive snapshot of active evaluation modules along with all perpetually licensed modules and any appropriate expiration dates. An additional “Inactive/Expired Modules” category provides an alternate view of these modules in one location.

There have also been significant changes to how provisioning works with evaluation licenses. Prior to v.10, administrators were required to provision AND license a module in order for the necessary daemons and resources to be allocated to support the module. Now, provisioning is immediate and if memory or resources issues arise, they are noted. One of the most significant advantages of this provisioning change is that there is no delay or restart/reboot required to turn on a module. This is highly valuable when evaluating a module on a production system which is rarely rebooted outside of maintenance windows.

A key advantage of F5 and our TMOS platform is the ability to run additional modules on a BIG-IP LTM that can expand it’s capabilities without requiring additional hardware investment. These modules can dramatically improve the performance and security of critical applications. With the release of the v.10 Evaluation Licensing features, existing complexity and barriers have been removed that make it easy for you to try out new functionality quickly – even in your production environments – to get a more realistic and practical view into how F5 product modules and bundles can help you.

Supported Product Modules:
The following v.10 Evaluation Module Add-ons will be available:

  • WebAccelerator™ Module
  • Application Security Module
  • WAN Optimization Module
  • Protocol Security Module 

Supported Systems:
Here is a listing of the devices – LTM base systems including the LTM Enterprise additions – that will support the v.10 evaluation licensing capability:

  • LTM 6400, 6800, 8400, 8800
  • LTM 1600 (depending upon product module), 3600, 6900, 8900