A10 Networks Lands Go Daddy In Monster Cisco ACE Switch-Out


Scrappy A10 Networks has knocked down one of the most high-profile Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE) displacement deals since Cisco confirmed it would no longer develop that line of application delivery products a few months ago.

Go Daddy, the domain name system (DNS), web hosting and SSL certificate big wheel, is buying more than 50 A10 AX Series application delivery controllers (ADC) to support its web hosting and DNS businesses specifically. It was an incumbent Cisco ACE customer, and selected A10 after a competitive bid process involving most of the major application delivery networking vendors, A10 said.

The move will benefit about 11 million Go Daddy customers, said Tim Parker, Go Daddy director of networking.

"Small business customer success online is largely influenced by the technology and support employed," Parker said in a statement e-mailed to CRN. "Using A10, we are able to provide the same, top-level service nearly 11 million customers have come to expect while improving reliability and keeping costs down."

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A10 and Go Daddy declined to provide exact financial terms for the deal, which also involved A10 partner Insight on the channel side. Go Daddy is deploying the AX Series appliances in several data centers both in North America and internationally. It's also using A10's aGalaxy centralized management to streamline operations.

"They had ACE and also a lot of CSS equipment [Content Services Switches, the predecessor to Cisco ACE]," Paul Nicholson, A10 director of product marketing, told CRN. "The natural move would have been to upgrade a lot of that to ACE, so they had to look at different vendors and we were able to win based on price performance and functionality."

In one of the bigger Cisco-related stories of 2012, Cisco in September confirmed to CRN it would cease development of ACE, which are modules for Cisco switches and routers that provide load balancing, content-switching, application acceleration and security.

Cisco's share of the application delivery networking market had declined significantly in recent years, though according to several estimates is still about 11 to 12 percent. That was enough of an installed base for rival vendors, from F5 Networks to A10, Radware and Riverbed, to try to exploit partner and customer concerns with lucrative trade-in programs. A10, for example, offered a promotion through which customers could receive up to $24,000, plus installation and migration services, by trading in ACE models for A10 AX series appliances.

Another thing that made AX attractive to Go Daddy, Nicholson suggested, is that Go Daddy can use the 64-bit AXes to improve its consolidation ratio by eight times per high-availability pair of appliances, compared to ACE. A10's added other appealing features to the AX lines, as well, such as SSL intercept for securing encrypted traffic in use with the appliances, he said.

The upper-tier AX appliances are, in researcher Gartner's definition, "advanced ADCs" that can offer more sophisticated capabilities at higher levels of the networking stack.

Nicholson said that the fallout from Cisco's ACE announcement has helped more solution providers embrace A10. Kelly LeBlanc, head of worldwide marketing for A10, said that as of January, A10 now has more than 2,500 AX Series customers and about 300 channel partners, about 90 of whom it considers strategic.

Those numbers show significant growth from the 1,200 AX customers and 180 partners A10 had a year earlier, and LeBlanc and Nicholson cited the vendor's aggressive 2012 channel recruitment and partner program expansion as the reason.

More partner resources are coming, Nicholson said. A10 solution providers will have an expanded partner portal and access to simpler-to-use collateral, such as sales-focused cheat sheets specific to cloud opportunities.

"We've had good relationships with some of the larger VARs already, but when they see deals like these come in and realize they can make some money, they give us more attention," Nicholson said.

PUBLISHED JAN. 3, 2013