Kemp VLM Series vs F5 BIG-IP Load Balancers

Kemp VLM Series vs F5 BIG-IP Load Balancers

How do Kemp Technologies and F5 compare when it comes to their latest load balancer products? The first thing that will jump out to a prospective buyer is the fact that Kemp load balancers cost a fraction of the price of F5 load balancers. Why is this? Firstly, let’s look at the differences and similarities in the technologies.

Load balancers are either L4 or L7 where “L” stands for Layer. L4 deals with packets of traffic and decides on the best route based on IPs and TCP or UDP ports between client and server whilst L7 operates at a higher level dealing with the actual contents of the message and is applicable to TCP‑based traffic such as HTTP. Both Kemp and F5 produce and sell L4 and L7 load balancers.

F5 products use “BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM)” for network traffic, and this is the basis for their BIG-IP series. This facilitates the choice of destination by considering performance, availability and security. BIG-IP is full proxy (full power) and has granular control over network traffic for L7. The fast speed of SSL allows encryption of the information between client and server and the security is such that it protects against DDoS and inspects the traffic flow rejecting anything it considers bad traffic. It has SSL offloading and acceleration capabilities. The TCP/IP stack (TCP Express) is highly optimised achieving a 400% increase in bandwidth efficiency and a 200% performance gain for users. Page load times are increased giving performance optimization, and this is done by considering the application and server conditions and then making decisions. ScaleN technology delivers on-demand scaling. F5 load balancers are programmable via the iRules F5 script which is event driven and adaptable depending on the environment. Real time analytics are also used allowing the balancer to get to the root of the problem. Availability is achieved by influencing the traffic in real time. It uses global server load balancing.

F5s work on both public and private cloud, just like in a data center. Products cost from between $17,995 to $58,995 without features and support and $21,100 to $69,024 with features and 1 year of support. They are undoubtedly the most expensive in the market.

Kemp’s Load Masters, the VLM series, have a lot of similar features, standard features that any business would expect for load balancers. Their capability allows them to have an always-on service which allows optimisation of a user’s availability and performance and also polices its security and workload performance by acting as a “traffic cop”. Global server load balancing undertakes automated disaster recovery so that an application will be running continuously, by switching to another server. Kemp also boasts of the world’s first per-app load-balancer/ADC.

Rather than using analytics like the F5 products, the Load Master uses a suite of algorithms: starting with the simple Round Robin to the more complex Software Defined Networking (SDN) Adaptive algorithms, working out which one is the best choice for a particular scenario. This allows the client access requests to be balanced in an intelligent way across the server pool. It has full REST API and automation, works with hypervisors and IaaS Cloud platforms, is automated, has health monitoring encryption acceleration, caching, compression, TCP Multiplexing, SSL offload and L4/& load balancing for all TCP/UDP. Products include the VLM-500 and VLM-3000 costing $2,000 and $6,000 respectively without support. The VLM-MAX has more advanced features with an increased price of $10,000 without support. For extra features and 1 year support the prices are $3,000, $9,600 and $14,000 respectively. See Tables 2 to 4 where price, performance and minimum resource requirement are compared to similar products from the Kemp Load Master series.

In conclusion, the F5 range offers a wider range of features, whereas the Kemp range offers a standard set of features required by most businesses. A comprehensive overview of Kemp’s VLM series and F5/BIG-IP load balancers can be found below. From the tables below it can be seen that on the whole, the features are similar for both. F5 has typically been preferred by multi-national corporations and will require a team of dedicated F5 technicians to look after their products. Kemp’s products, however, are off-the shelf ready and would be favored by smaller and medium sized companies. With this being said, Kemp’s price point offers a significant price advantage even for enterprise corporations as well.

Table 1 Features of Kemp Load Master Vs F5 BIG-IP
FeatureKemp Load MasterF5 BIG-IP
Algorithm Driven
Analytics Driven
API Based Administration
Automatic Configuration
Autoscaling
Content Caching
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
DDoS Mitigation
External HSM Support
Full L4/L7 ADC
Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB)
Health Monitoring
HTTP Compression
Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
IPv6 Support
IPSec VPN
KVM✓ (but not F5 BIG-IP VE-10G)
Load Balanced Clusters3002-5
Microsoft Hyper-V✓ (but not F5 BIG-IP VE-10G)
MultiCloud
Rest API/Automated
ProxyReverseFull
Scalable
SDN Adaptive SDN Adaptive (L2-L7 load balancing
Security
SSL Offload
TMG Replacement [Pre-auth, SSO, Logging (ESP)]
Topology Mapping
WAF Support
Hypervisors Supported
KVM✓ (but not F5 BIG-IP VE-10G)
Microsoft Hyper-V✓ (but not F5 BIG-IP VE-10G)
Oracle Virtual Box
Oracle VM✓ (but only F5 BIG-IP VE-10G)
VMware
Cloud Platforms Supported
Amazon Web Services (AWS)✓ (but only F5 BIG-IP VE-200M and F5 BIG-IP VE-1G)
Cisco Intercloud✓ (but only F5 BIG-IP VE-200M and F5 BIG-IP VE-1G)
Microsoft Azure✓ (but only F5 BIG-IP VE-200M and F5 BIG-IP VE-1G)
VMware vCloud Air✓ (but only F5 BIG-IP VE-200M and F5 BIG-IP VE-1G)

Table 2 Prices of Kemp Load Master Vs F5 BIG-IP
ModelKemp Virtual LoadMaster 500F5 BIG-IP VE-200MKemp Virtual LoadMaster 3000F5 BIG-IP VE-1GF5 BIG-IP VE-3GF5 BIG-IP VE-5GKemp Virtual LoadMaster MAXF5 BIG-IP VE-10G
Base Price ($USD)$2,000$17,995$6,000$31,995$37,995$45,995$10,000$58,995
Price incl. Features + Year 1 support ($USD)$3,000$21,100$9,600$37,500$44,454$53,814$14,000$69,024

Table 3 Performance of Kemp Load Master Vs F5 BIG-IP-1
ModelKemp Virtual LoadMaster 500F5 BIG-IP VE-200MKemp Virtual LoadMaster 3000F5 BIG-IP VE-1GF5 BIG-IP VE-3GF5 BIG-IP VE-5GKemp Virtual LoadMaster MAXF5 BIG-IP VE-10G
Max Throughput (in Gbps)0.50.23135uncapped10
SSL TPS (2K)500n/a4,000n/an/an/auncapped3,550
Concurrent connections3 millionn/a3 millionn/an/an/auncapped10 million
Table 4 Minimum Resources Required of Kemp Load Master Vs F5 BIG-IP-1
ModelKemp Virtual LoadMaster 500F5 BIG-IP VE-200MKemp Virtual LoadMaster 3000F5 BIG-IP VE-1GF5 BIG-IP VE-3GF5 BIG-IP VE-5GKemp Virtual LoadMaster MAXF5 BIG-IP VE-10G
Processor64 bit x86 CPU1,2,4 or 8 CPUs64 bit x86 CPU1,2,4 or 8 CPUs1,2,4 or 8 CPUs1,2,4 or 8 CPUs64 bit x86 CPU64 bit
Memory(GB)1min. 2GB per core1min. 2GB per coremin. 2GB per coremin. 2GB per core116
Disk Size (GB)32min. 3GB (thin provisioning) min. 120GB (thick provisioning)32min. 3GB (thin provisioning) min. 120GB (thick provisioning)min. 3GB (thin provisioning) min. 120GB (thick provisioning)min. 3GB (thin provisioning) min. 120GB (thick provisioning)32min. 3GB (thin provisioning) min. 120GB (thick provisioning)

References

  1. https://www.f5.com
  2. https://kemptechnologies.com/compare-kemp-to-f5
  3. https://kemptechnologies.com
  4. https://hegaudigital.com/2020/05/05/kemp-load-vs-cisco-avi-load-balancers/
  5. https://www.loadbalancer.org/blog/kemp-vs-f5-a-refreshingly-honest-load-balancer-comparison/

The Author of this exclusive article, Carol Brickley is a Software Developer at General Dynamics, with previous experience at the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

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