F5 Acquires Linerate for Layer 7 SDN Control

What is the intersection between Application Delivery Controllers and Software Defined Networking?

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Feb 12, 2013
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F5 is best known in the networking industry for its BIG-IP and VIPRION portfolio of Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs). F5 is now ramping up to become known in the Software Defined Networking market as well.

F5 announced the acquisition of SDN services vendor Linerate this week. Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed at this time. Nigel Burmeister, Director of Product Marketing at F5 Networks, told Enterprise Networking Planet that most of LineRate employees will be joining F5. Burmeister added that F5 is committed to investing in and growing the LineRate team.

As to why F5 chose to acquire Linerate instead of any of the other myriad SDN startups, it's all about LineRatestrategic alignment.

"LineRate’s application focus (Layer 7+) makes it a strategic fit with F5’s vision, and the company’s technology will extend our capabilities and enable us to further expand our market opportunities," Burmeister said. "In addition, the LineRate Systems team has proven that its architectural approach has significant competitive advantages over alternative SDN and software-based ADC efforts."

LineRate's Proxy Product solution is a software based approach for carrier-grade traffic management. The LineRate Proxy is able to handle over 4 million simultaneous connections and offers the promise of sub-second high-availability as well as node level self-healing. The LineRate proxy runs on top of the LineRate Operating System (LROS) which is based on the open source FreeBSD operating system.

LineRate's ability to work across Layer7 services is a key capability that F5 needs.

"While a vast majority of SDN controllers operate in the basic layer 2-3 space, the demands of L7+ services are different, requiring an entirely different level of intelligence, dynamic control, and programmability," Burmeister said. "Doing this across all of F5’s high performance hardware and software platforms will allow customers to more effectively deliver services within software defined data centers and in service provider networks where Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is adopted as a strategy to maximize agility."

Integration Roadmap

The impact of the LineRate acquisition will not be immediately noticeably by F5 customers.

"This is a technology purchase that will extend our existing solutions and will enable F5 to further expand our portfolio of software offerings over time," Burmeister said. "Starting this week, F5’s architecture teams will begin working on product integration and delivery roadmaps and we will engage with early customers around our new product initiatives. "

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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