Claim: BIG-IP is now a true application front end, providing security, protocol optimization, and traffic management.
Context: F5, Nortel, Cisco, and Foundry may be strong in packet switching-based load balancing, but they let niche players such as Redline, NetScaler, and now Zeus define the emerging application front-end market. With this announcement, F5 catches up considerably.
Credibility: F5 is the 800-pound gorilla in this market, so while it's good news for the start-ups that the gorilla wants to dance to their tune, they also need to be very careful not to get stepped on.
On September 9th, F5 Networks announced a sweeping overhaul of its BIG-IP product line, complete with an OS rewrite, a new ASIC design, and new applications. With this step, F5 has moved beyond content switching and load balancing to more wide-ranging application acceleration. All is not golden, however: The company is still behind the pack in terms of caching, symmetrical compression, and failover. Still, F5's announcement puts pressure on Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, and Foundry Networks to update their product lines, while at the same time validating the architecture of products from start-ups NetScaler, Redline Networks, and Zeus Technology.