F5 Networks CEO Seeing Big Traction In Security


One thing that's come up a lot is how F5 is emphasizing virtualized application delivery networking products. A lot of the startup players entering the ADN space push an all-software approach. Is this a big area of focus for F5?

Yes it is, but it's very small right now -- we're talking about a very small percentage. But all the capabilities we're building for cloud apps or optimizing cloud apps in the data center or adding security, we're doing that for both the virtual side of the things and the systems side. That includes management. You can manage BIG IPs and some can be software only -- some can be VIPRIONs with multiple choices. But virtual versions versus [physical] system versions, I don't think that happens anytime soon. I think that's three to five years or a longer type of scenario. You do want to be able to spin up software at will depending on workloads and user requirements, but you're also seeing these massive traffic requirements in mobile and other scenarios that need very specialized hardware: high speed bus capability, for example.

So is the customer preference trending toward hybrid environments?

It is. Some big growth is in our VIPRION chassis, which were up 82 percent over this time last year. We're seeing a gravitation toward being able to pull multiple solutions into a one-system world. The VIPRION chassis gives you application optimizing, some encryption, you're certainly doing security at the application level, so you're wanting to have that unified platform.

The efficiency of it is what's attractive then?

Efficiency, the ability to add easily, the ability to cope with the traffic and increasing traffic needs, all those types of the things. And if you have VIPRION, we can have virtualization within the VIPRION chassis, that's becoming very popular. VCMP [Virtual Clustered Multiprocessing, which combines virtualization and multi-tenancy capabilities for managing application delivery services] was the feature we introduced last year that is probably most of interest.

Let's talk about F5's security traction. You've given some metrics on how quickly F5 is growing as a security vendor and it seems like that push, at least from a marketing perspective, has been well received by your reseller and integrator partners with security practices. What are you looking at that shows that traction?

Oh, we're beating what we set out as [metrics] internally. You have products like the Access Policy Manager (APM) and the Application Security Manager (ASM) growing significantly, and the biggest software drivers sitting on top of BIG-IP. What I said on the call was that the attach rate on BIG-IP platforms hit a record high last quarter, and that was mostly driven by the security modules.

The other area we're seeing major sales of is data center firewalls. That's growing very aggressively. We haven't given a specific number and I won't now, but one thing we are going to do, is that come December, when we have an investor/analyst day, we're probably going to talk much more in detail about our security wins. You buy a BIG-IP from us and on that BIG-IP, you're doing encryption, Sharepoint optimization maybe but also running an application firewall. Is that an application sale or a security sale? We want to make that more obvious to the investors and analysts. But it's easy to measure, we have monetary targets internally and we are way ahead of where we thought we'd be.

And you'll be making big security product updates?

The big news is in TMOS and something we're calling "Topaz" internally. It's a fully-loaded data center Layer 3-7 firewall, and by that we mean a traditional firewall that also has the application side integrated with it as well, and the best performance as well. I wish we had the product tomorrow. It's on our next TMOS release and it's on the roadmap for the end of this year.

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