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F5 & Acopia vs. Cisco & NeoPath

6:00 PM -- F5 Networks' announced plan to buy Acopia for $210 million calls into question the state of the market for wide area file services (WAFS) and WAN optimization. It also prompts comparisons with Cisco's purchase of NeoPath last March. (See Cisco Nabs NeoPath and F5 Acquires Acopia for $210M.)

According to Gartner, the market segment F5 rules with a 33.5 percent share (as of 1Q07) is application delivery controllers (ADCs). Cisco ranks second with a 30.1 percent share in this segment, and Citrix (with Netscaler), Radware, and Foundry are the only other notable participants.

ADCs, in Gartner's taxonomy, are devices that work from the data center to improve the performance or availability of IP- or Web-based applications. ADCs grossed $250 million in worldwide revenue last quarter, according to Gartner, and they're worthy of note because, like WAN optimizers, they enable better performance of remote site data. And we all know how important that's getting to be.

The question is, Who can move fast enough to wed the disparate functionality of ADCs with WAN optimization?

Cisco's ACE module for its Catalyst 6500 routers -- which is marketed alongside its WAAS -- is included in Gartner's ADC count. So are Cisco's Content Services Switches (CSSs) for Web insfrastructures and the Content Switching Module (CSM) for the Catalyst 6500.

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