F5 Buys LineRate Systems to Expand SDN Capabilities
F5 is focusing its efforts around offering applications services that run on software-defined networks.F5 Networks became the latest technology vendor to acquire a company to push forward its software-defined networking ambitions, buying LineRate Systems Feb. 11 for its SDN services. F5, a key player in the application delivery controller market, is eyeing the fast-growing SDN market from the Layer 4-7 perspective, where services like security, acceleration, optimization and traffic management live. Up to now, most of the attention in SDN has been at the connectivity level, where established companies like Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Juniper Networks are competing with such startups as Big Switch Networks and Plexxi, and where protocols like OpenFlow are debated. Less attention has been paid to the application layer, though it is beginning to get more ink. Not only is F5 making its play in that part of the SDN space, but others, such as Embrane, also are focusing there. In a recent interview with eWEEK, Embrane CEO Dante Malagrino, a former Cisco executive, said that as the SDN trend continues, the role of services to run on these networks will become more important, and that he anticipates other SDN vendors will start moving up the stack to the application layer. Lori MacVittie, senior technical marketing manager at F5, agreed.
As SDN matures, its focus will continue to move up the network stack, toward the application layers," MacVittie wrote in a Feb. 11 post on the F5 blog. "The programmable, scalable services at the application layer comprising the Application Services Fabric are necessary to fully realize the benefits of SDN and software-defined data centers, particularly in environments where network function virtualization [NFV] is adopted as a strategy to achieve maximum agility. Network function virtualization requires not only the improved performance of today's modern x86 hardware platforms, but software capable of scaling on demand while maintaining optimal performance and offering a high-degree of programmability for superior software defined control over the network."