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How flexible are F5 and Kemp for load balancer pricing in the cloud?


The original idea for load balancing was very simple. Physical hardware deployed on-site functioned as the central point of all load balancing applications and security services. The networking world was comprised of hard boundaries and most applications were supported by in-house locations.

However, this strategy started to fall apart with the advent of cloud and virtualization. Virtualization allows numerous smaller load balancers to move and scale as needed, while the cloud supersedes the fixed network and security boundaries.

Now, a central load balancer supporting all locations and types of applications is no longer sufficient. There is an urgent need for a per-app load balancing operation model. The model should be available at an affordable price for the cloud, granting customers the best value for money. Put simply, an innovative model at an innovative price.

The cloud gives many benefits to users. It provides a pre-established global footprint that abstracts the various difficulties of IT infrastructure. One of the primary advantages of cloud is agility. However, if the load balancing model is inflexible and dated, the advantages of cloud would be limited by its price.

The price of the cloud

All major load balancing vendors can provide per-app load balancing capability, but this is not the crucial point. The problem is accompanying costs, not from a cloud usage standpoint but from a load balancer license one.

Cloud is expensive. As a result, users are hesitant to overpay for their load balancing license when they are already paying so much for Cloud access.

There is no perfect protocol or design configuration that provides the optimal cost ratio per license. The ideal approach would be to guarantee the consumption model has to be clear and available from the vendor upfront. This would permit increased deployment flexibility at a modest price.

Kemp perpetual licensing and metered licensing

From the start Kemp have had a perpetual load balancing license. This license, still offered, is perfect for use cases both in the cloud and on-site, particularly if the application has predictable traffic and capacity.

The baseline perpetual license limits the application to certain performance and feature boundaries. It is useful in rigid environments but fails to deal with surges or spikes in traffic, often called peak usage events.

Each network is unique, with custom configurations, and the same is true of application usage. When something isn’t understood, you can’t just apply a rigid framework to it and expect an ideal result. A perpetual license is unsuitable for unknown use cases.

To overcome this obstacle, Kemp offers a metered license. Metered licensing is a monthly subscription, like those of mobile phones, that includes a set amount of usage for a fixed price with clear costs for usage that exceeds this.

For instance, suppose you are unsure of application peak usage and occasionally the number of load balancing cloud instances required will increase or decrease. This is a situation many users experience. In this case, users can simply purchase a 10Gb license, guaranteeing all the instances and providing higher throughput at a lower cost.

Kemp’s license structure allows 10Gb of traffic and unlimited deployment of load balancer instances as needed to meet unpredicted or predicted traffic surges. Kemp calculates the total peak for all deployed load balancing instances that month. If it is below 10Gb, then its not a problem. And if you go over, it’s absolutely fine as the surcharge is very cost-effective.

Kemp metered licensing doesn’t limit operations, as instances are always right-sized regardless of peak usage.

F5 enterprise licensing

Compared to Kemp’s metered licensing model, F5 prioritize their enterprise licensing agreement (ELA). Users pay for a number of licenses and activate and apply them when needed. This simplistic model has many limitations.

The licenses are of fixed capacities, so choosing a license will always be a negotiation between not over-provisioning for normal use or under-provisioning for exceptional usage. This restricts applications and has no granularity. Unfortunately, under this model, you will always be overcharged for licensing. F5 ELA is not an ideal union between load balancing, cloud deployments and licensing costs.


Applications are migrating to the cloud. Businesses need an adaptable consumption model when it comes to licensing. Kemp metered licensing offers the right price for the cloud while preserving the many advantages of cloud and virtualization.

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