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F5 Networks delivers industry's first App Traffic Management' product.

F5 Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq:FFIV) has announced the next generation of BIG-IP(R), pioneering a new category within the networking market called `Application Traffic Management'.

With the introduction of this release, customers can apply all the benefits (high availability, scalability, security, and increased performance) delivered by traditional Web Internet Traffic Management to any IP-based application, such as web services, enterprise or mobile applications. Previously the types of protocols these applications use, such as XML, SQL, SIP, etc., could not be understood and acted upon by network devices without designing the functions directly into the application or deploying a complex number of point solutions. F5's next generation of BIG-IP software offers groundbreaking features and capabilities for deploying high-performance, intelligent networks that can understand any application protocol and securely support any IP application.

"Reducing the cost and complexity of infrastructure while simultaneously increasing infrastructure adaptability are the primary objectives of Infrastructure planners," said Peter Firstbrook, senior research analyst, The Meta Group. "Traffic management technology that can span multiple architecture domains (e.g., Web, application, and database tiers) as well as multiple infrastructure services, such as firewalls and intrusion detection, are far more cost effective to operate, and provide the highest level of adaptability."

The cornerstone of today's announcement is F5's patent-pending Universal Inspection Engine (UIE) and iRules(TM). Unlike any other networking product on the market, this powerful version of BIG-IP can read any value(s) of an IP-based packet header or payload and direct it to the appropriate resource. Based on precise business criteria and requirements, iRules allow an organization to easily incorporate application specific logic into the BIG-IP; resulting in significant operational efficiencies. Web services, enterprise and mobile applications no longer have to shoulder the burden of high availability, security, or control within the application itself. These functions can be offloaded to the BIG-IP, enabling simplified scaling, deployment, and ongoing maintenance of applications and web services. For example, with the UIE and iRules, customers can read, switch, and filter on mobile phone numbers found in the payload of a packet, database operation types found in the IP stream, and XML payload information.

Net2Phone, Inc., a New Jersey-based company that provides voice and enhanced Internet communications services recently purchased the BIG-IP system. "As the leading provider of Voice over IP (VoIP) services worldwide, our business depends upon a powerful, reliable and scalable IP infrastructure," said Jeff Skelton, Chief Technology Officer for Net2Phone. "This is why we use F5 Networks' BIG IP product. While other networking products can only tell us if the server is running or not, the BIG-IP Application Traffic Management product ensures that the application is running properly; enabling Net2Phone to build a reliable and scalable infrastructure and offer the highest Quality of Service to our customers."

IT departments are challenged to meet the needs of the business, with constant pressure to architect all kinds of advanced applications destined to be delivered over IP-based networks. But, enterprise applications and business requirements have outgrown the capabilities of existing networking products. Clearly, a new category of networking solution is needed as current alternatives are deficient, cost prohibitive, and highly complex. To squarely address the looming needs of these enterprises, F5 is introducing an entirely new networking category called Application Traffic Management, a superset of Internet Traffic Management. Application Traffic Management allows enterprises and service providers to process any mission-critical application or web service--providing secure and predictable delivery of applications in an unpredictable environment.

"Once again, F5 is demonstrating its market leadership by delivering the most advanced technology coupled with exceptional value," said Jeff Pancottine, senior vice president of marketing and business development. "With today's pressing need to securely deliver all types of applications over IP, many of our customers' requirements go beyond the capabilities of traditional ITM. Now, with the power of Application Traffic Management and this next generation of BIG-IP, best practice network architectures can be built quickly and inexpensively without having to make massive application changes or buying expensive high-end servers."

Through powerful switching control and unmatched application intelligence, BIG-IP software ensures application success while protecting and enhancing current networking investments. BIG-IP software runs on F5's entire IP Application Switch series and IP Appliance family. Highlights of the product include:

Universal Inspection Engine (UIE) enables traffic direction with pinpoint accuracy. A breakthrough, patent pending feature that is core to Application Traffic Management, the UIE allows enterprises to direct traffic based on their exact business requirements. While other products can only switch/persist on HTTP and SSL packets, the UIE enables BIG-IP software to read all of the HTTP header or payload, and switch/persist on information unique to specific vendor's application server (BEA WebLogic, Microsoft, Oracle 9iAS, etc.), XML data for web services, or on custom values for mobile applications.

iRules offers significant time and cost savings through customized control. BIG-IP software includes iRules, a powerful new tool for determining how to handle different traffic or application types based on any information in the packet header and/or the payload--enhancing the enterprise's ability to customize their application-switching to suit their exact needs. The Universal Inspection Engine is the means--iRules are the tools used to apply intelligence and business decisions to traffic management.

SOAP/XML Switching for successfully delivering web services applications. Web Services consists of a set of protocols such as XML (Extensible Markup Language)--a set of tags that identify different elements within the text so that programs can scan for those elements and interact with them. XML files are large and bulky, however, and the added traffic generated through web services is significant. Only the BIG-IP solution has the required intelligence and processing power to switch, persist, or secure complex XML data to successfully deliver web services applications.

Dynamic Security Control Architecture for centralized application security enforcement. Through a combination of software and hardware, F5's Dynamic Security Control Architecture (DSCA) is able to enforce user access security policies, fortify a site from cyber attacks, and accelerate/off-load SSL transactions from web and application servers. By leveraging F5's open iControl(TM) API and communicating with the BIG-IP device, specialized security devices can now take an active role in shaping network traffic.

BIG-IP software version 4.5 will be available in October. Additionally, new releases of F5's award-winning 3-DNS Controller and BIG-IP Link Controller software are available as part the version 4.5 release.
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Title Annotation:BIG-IP software
Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 28, 2002
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