LineRate Acquisition Moves F5 Up Into The SDN Realm

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F5 to move up the stack to the application layer of software-defined networks with intelligent Linerate purchase

F5 Networks became the latest technology vendor to acquire a company to push forward its software-defined networking (SDN) ambitions, buying LineRate Systems on 11 February 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, optimisation and traffic management live.

Application layer

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 startups such as Big Switch Networks and Plexxi, and where protocols like OpenFlow are debated.

Less attention has been paid to the application layer. Not only is F5 making its play in that part of the SDN space but others, such as Embrane, are also focusing there.

In a recent interview with eWEEK, Embrane chief executive Dante Malagrino, a former Cisco executive, said the role of services to run on these networks will become more important as the SDN trend continues and 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. The programmable, scalable services at the application layer comprising the Application Services Fabric are necessary to fully realise the benefits of SDN and software-defined data centres, particularly in environments where network function virtualisation [NFV] is adopted as a strategy to achieve maximum agility.

“Network function virtualisation 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,” MacVittie wrote in a post on the F5 blog.