Home Industry Strategy F5 Networks makes big push into network security

F5 Networks, the self-proclaimed "global leader in application delivery networking" is making a big push to promote itself as a specialist provider of network security technology saying that, almost by accident, it has developed a deal of expertise and success in this market.

Kirby Wadsworth VP global marketing - in Australia primarily to promote the latest iteration of the company's Big-IP operating system - told a press conference: "Last Friday night in [F5 HQ in] Seattle, the executive committee made a massive commitment to investment in marketing and positioning to educate the marketplace worldwide about what we bring to the security table.

"A lot of people say we are the best kept secret in the security market. You will see that change with a large seven figure investment around security branding."

He said the company had been particularly successful in helping major enterprises defeat a range of recent high profile DDoS attacks. "We have been able to do it, almost surprising ourselves in some cases. Most people did not know that. The technical analysts did and we were getting yelled at for not telling people. Now that is going to change."

Kurt Hansen, the managing director of F5 Networks in Australia, added: "We are probably one of the fastest growing regions in the world for F5 and over the last 18 months that has been heavily driven by security. We have been doing security very quietly in most of the verticals in which we operate."

The company operates exclusively through channels in Australia and, according to Hansen, "eighty percent of our business comes from banks, government and large telcos." Channel partners include "major systems integrators like Dimension Data and IBM, and some very technical and very focussed niche operators," Hansen said.


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Wadsworth described the latest release of the company's Big-IP operating system, Version 11, as "A really fundamental re-architecting and reconceiving of the value F5 delivers. It is the largest improvement/change we have made in the last four or five years.

"We are taking the basics that changed F5 from a load balancer to an application delivery controller and putting those on steroids'¦with new multiprocessing and clustering technology which is critical to supporting telcos and the massive growth of video traffic they have to deal with."

With the release of V11 F5 is delivering on a recommendation from Gartner. In its Magic Quadrant for application delivery controllers, issued last November, Gartner placed F5 in the leaders' quadrant, well ahead of its nearest rivals on 'ability to execute' and on par with Citrix and Radware in 'completeness of vision' and said "F5 has remained the market leader during the past 12 months'¦However, despite this success, continued application and software-focussed innovation around application performance demands, virtualised data centres and cloud services will be needed."

F5 fared less well in the related market of WAN optimisation controllers. In that Magic Quadrant, published in December 2010, Gartner put F5 in the niche players' quadrant commending the company for its "very-high-throughput device for data-centre-to- data-centre links, and a wide range of accelerations for data centre replication and storage protocols," but marking it down for "a continued lack of a low-cost, small branch office platform and branch capabilities'¦[and a lack of] demonstrated capabilities in large and complex branch networks."



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Stuart Corner


Tracking the telecoms industry since 1989, Stuart has been awarded Journalist Of The Year by the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (twice) and by the Service Providers Action Network. In 2010 he received the 'Kester' lifetime achievement award in the Consensus IT Writers Awards and was made a Lifetime Member of the Telecommunications Society of Australia. He was born in the UK, came to Australia in 1980 and has been here ever since.






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