F5 Unifies Traffic Acceleration Technology

Effective delivery of applications is not just about load balancing traffic flows. It’s also about the optimization of network protocols as well as web content.

To that end, F5 is converging its application and WAN optimization solutions into a new unified offering, known as the BIG-IP Application Acceleration Manager (AAM).

“Web optimization is on the front end side of things and includes content transformation and minification, but there is also a protocol that needs to be optimized,” Dawn Parzych, product manager at F5 Networks, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet. “HTTP as a protocol is inefficient, which is why we have looked at protocol performance optimizations.”

The Web Performance Optimization bits of the AAM take advantage of multiple techniques to optimize web content, including what is known as minification. Parzych noted that minification techniques can remove whitespace and comments from HTML code, JavaScript, and stylesheets. Less code needs to be downloaded and understood by the web browser, speeding up the overall delivery and rendering process.

Minification also includes image transformation and compression, such that website graphics are optimized by the AAM.

Overall, Parzych said that the AAM’s Web Optimization piece can reduce the size of a webpage by 10 to 15 percent on average.

Transport optimization

The AAM system also provides Forward Error Correction for Transport Optimization, which can improve web delivery speed in some situations.

“Forward Error Correction is implemented for high packet loss environments, where you end up with a significant number of retransmissions,” Parzych said. “What Forward Error Correction does is, it sends a decoding packet ahead of time to the other device in an effort to help determine how many extra packets might be required, eliminating the need for retransmission.”


The AAM solution will also include F5’s implementation of Google’s SPDY protocol. F5 has made SPDY available to its customers in early access since May of 2012.

SPDY offers the promise of further accelerating web connection speeds by as much as 20 percent over non-SPDY connections.

“We’re definitely seeing the interest with SPDY,” Parzych said.


A number of major vendors, including Riverbed, are competing in the web content optimization and WAN optimization space. Riverbed launched its formal entry into the application delivery and web content optimization space with Stingray in 2011.

Parzych doesn’t see Riverbed as F5’s competition.

“We’re not going after Riverbed,” Parzych said. “What we’re looking at is the overall application delivery space, looking at the cloud and SaaS market, to deliver content better, and we’re just looking to build out the optimizations available on an ADC.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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