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F5 and Reactivity Get Cozy

We've been wondering when the traffic management market and the SOA security and management market would get together. The recently announced partnership between F5 Networks and Reactivity means we can stop wondering.

SOA security and management products, which mediate for back-end Web services, suffer performance problems because parsing XML is computationally intensive. These products also focus on supporting the myriad specifications and standards necessary to manage and secure Web services, not on optimizing performance. That, however, is F5's specialty.

F5 has often touted its TMOS architecture as pluggable, but thus far hasn't let any partners look under the hood, let alone take it for a spin. But this new relationship is different: Reactivity's software will be integrated into TMOS and essentially become an extension of F5's BIG-IP.

If they do it right, both vendors and customers will benefit. XML will be parsed once instead of twice, and there will be only one intermediary setting up and tearing down TCP sessions instead of two.

We'll withhold judgment until we see this converged beast in our labs, but it brings to market a single solution not unlike Cisco's AON. And while Cisco has been slow to push AON, the vision of a converged traffic management and XML/SOA management solution is certainly the right one. The impact of this partnership will be felt throughout the industry.