F5 Debuts Web App Acceleration Technology

The Seattle, Wash.-based vendor launched new WebAccelerator modules for its Big-IP application switch, which will add Web application acceleration capabilities to its flagship traffic management product line. F5 is also launching a stand-alone version of the technology, the WebAcclerator 4500 appliance.

The launch marks the post-acquisition debut of the WebAccelerator technology on F5's TMOS (Traffic Management Operating System). WebAccelerator aims to boost the performance of Web-based enterprise applications from vendors such as BEA, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle/Siebel and SAP. F5 closed its Swan Labs purchase in October.

The technology launch comes amidst an effort by F5 to push its top channel partners to build broader, higher-margin application delivery solutions.

"Customers are saying that the vendors finally get it. It's not about the newest routers or switches, it's about the application," said Craig Nelson, executive vice president of practice solutions at MSI Systems Integrators, an Omaha, Neb.-based F5 partner.

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By offering WebAccelerator technology as add-on modules and as a stand-alone appliance, F5 should be able to appeal to a broad range of channel partners and customers, said Joe Hicks, F5's product manager for WebAccelerator.

"If you're not an F5 customer already and you have a load-balancer or other devices, [you can] try out the technology," Hicks said of the WebAccelerator appliance. "It allows us to reach deeper into other channels. If you're a Cisco Gold partner and you don't want to compete [with Cisco's application switching portfolio] you can still introduce customers to F5," he said.

The new WebAccelerator module runs on Big-IP 6400, 6800 and 8400 models. Pricing for the module is $24,995 per Big-IP box. Pricing for the stand-alone WebAccelerator 4500 is $59,995. Both are scheduled for availability this quarter.

In addition to the new WebAccelerator wares, F5 also launched Enterprise Manager version 1.2, the upgrade to its centralized management platform. The new version adds centralized configuration and policy management for multiple F5 devices. The vendor also launched a new hardware platform, Enterprise Manager 3000, for the product line, which manages up to 300 Big-IP devices. Available in August, Enterprise Manager 3000 is priced at $49,995.