F5 Networks consolidated its application acceleration and WAN optimization technologies into a single platform, the F5 Application Acceleration Manager.
F5's Application Acceleration Manager (AAM) combines existing products BIG-IP WebAccelerator and BIG-IP WAN Optimization Manager. The product, available next month, will also ship with several new features, including optimization for HTTP Live Stream (HLS) and transport optimization with forward error correction.
F5 is "putting more functionality in at the application delivery controller [ADC] level by tying their WAN optimization and Web contention optimization into it," said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. "You don't want to have the 51st tool. You want to have one that replaces tools 45 through 50. Putting all this under a single pane of glass drives some operational efficiency."
The F5 application acceleration product is targeted at companies that are trying to optimize the delivery of cloud services and the quality of experience for mobile users, said Jason Needham, F5's vice president of product management and marketing.
"Everybody is trying to increase the level of capabilities they have in individual platforms," said Eric Hanselman, research director for 451 Research. "Riverbed went out and acquired Aptimize to do some similar kinds of things."
Vendors are trying to expand beyond offering discrete products that enhance specific connection delivery mechanisms, he said. Instead they want to offer platforms that have the flexibility to apply different optimizations, depending on the endpoint and the type of connection a user has.
"Our frontal assault continues to be Web performance optimization and mobile acceleration," Needham said. With AAM "we can deliver and converge WAN optimization services into those areas. As we focus on the software stack and the integration of these services into a unified acceleration offering, we anticipate customers taking us to more places."
The virtual edition of AAM will start at $5,000 and a hardware appliance starts at $12,000. Customers of BIG-IP WebAccelerator and BIG-IP WAN Optimization Manager will get a free upgrade to AAM when they upgrade to TMOS 11.4, the latest iteration of F5's core software platform.
With the software version, F5 anticipates customers deploying AAM in cloud environments; spinning it up in places like Amazon Web Services. While AAM can deliver asymmetric acceleration, F5 also envisions customers deploying the software on branch office boxes for symmetric acceleration.
Free testing tool demonstrates value of F5 application acceleration
In concert with AAM's release, F5 announced the F5 Application Speed Tester (FAST), a free, Web-based benchmarking tool that engineers can use to test how fast their applications and services will run with AAM installed.
"They get a report back and can get a sense of how much optimization and acceleration they can see across their bandwidth and user-performance dimensions," Needham said.
"It gives you the ability to test and show how you can accelerate," ESG's Laliberte said. "It's helpful to demonstrate to upper managers that here is where we're at today. And, if we implement this, here is what we can look like."
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