||This article may contain original research. (December 2012)|
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2010)|
|Traded as||NASDAQ: FFIV|
|Key people||John McAdam, CEO|
|Revenue||$1.15 billion USD (2011)|
F5 Networks, Inc. is a networking appliances company. It is headquartered in Seattle, Washington and has development and marketing offices worldwide. It originally manufactured and sold some of the very first load balancing products. In 2010, F5 Networks was featured in Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list.
F5 Networks' flagship product, the BIG-IP network appliance, was originally a network load balancer but today also offers other functionality such as access control and application security. Add-on modules to F5's BIG-IP family of products offer email filtering and intelligent compression to allow for lower bandwidth and faster downloads in addition to load balancing and local traffic management capabilities.
F5 offers products in various segments of the Application Delivery Controller market. According to Gartner, F5 has "a continued market-leading position" in the Application Delivery Controller market.
Corporate history 
F5 Networks, originally named F5 Labs, was founded in 1996. F5's first product was a load balancer called BIG-IP. If a server went down or became overloaded, BIG-IP directed traffic away from that server to other servers that could handle the load. In 1999 the company went public and was listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange (NASDAQ: FFIV). Corporate focus is on network intelligence. In 2004, 80% of the F5 business was with Fortune 500 companies.
Using internal development and acquisitions the company extended its reach beyond load balancing, producing a range of products for Application Delivery Networking. These products seek to improve the delivery of the applications by attempting to make them run faster and more securely.
- uRoam (SSL VPN vendor) for USD 25M in 2003
- Magnifire (Web Application Firewall) for USD 29M in 2004
- Swan Labs (WAN acceleration and web acceleration) for USD 43M in 2005.
- Acopia Networks (file virtualization) for USD 210M in 2007.
- Crescendo Networks in 2011 
- Traffix Systems in 2012 
- LineRate Systems in 2013 
F5's BIG-IP product is based on a network appliance (either virtual or physical) that runs F5's Traffic Management Operating System (TMOS). This appliance runs one or more product modules (depending on the appliance selected) that provide the BIG-IP functions.
BIG-IP appliances 
The current line of BIG-IP appliance was released between 2008 and 2010, and the hardware models internally use a single custom-fabricated system board. The previous platforms had two internal boards — a PC/server-type motherboard connected to a switchplane. Some models include hardware SSL acceleration for key exchanges and bulk encryption/decryption provided by Cavium Networks, and hardware compression assistance. The current hardware line-up uses Intel CPUs, but some previous models have included AMD Opteron CPUs. Hardware models include a front LCD panel for configuration and monitoring and a separate service processor for out-of-band management.
The full model line-up is as follows, with approximate best-case throughput indicated:
|BIG-IP LTM Virtual Edition||10 Mbit/s, 200 Mbit/s or 1 Gbit/s|
|BIG-IP 1600||1 Gbit/s|
|BIG-IP 3600||2 Gbit/s|
|BIG-IP 3900||4 Gbit/s|
|BIG-IP 6900||6 Gbit/s|
|BIG-IP 8900||12 Gbit/s|
|BIG-IP 8950||20 Gbit/s|
|BIG-IP 11050||42 Gbit/s|
|Viprion 2400||Up to 160 Gbit/s L4 & Up to 72 Gbit/s L7. Per Blade Up to 40G L4 & Up to 20G L7|
|Viprion 4480||Up to 320 Gbit/s|
BIG-IP product modules 
- Local Traffic Manager (LTM): Local load balancing based on a full-proxy architecture.
- Global Traffic Manager (GTM): Global server load balancing using DNS.
- Link Controller: Inbound and outbound ISP load balancing.
- Application Security Manager (ASM): A web application firewall.
- WebAccelerator: An asymmetric or symmetric advanced caching solution for HTTP and HTTPS traffic.
- Edge Gateway: An SSL VPN.
- WAN Optimisation Module: A data centre symmetric WAN optimization solution.
- Access Policy Manager (APM): Provides access control and authentication for HTTP and HTTPS applications.
BIG-IP software development history 
On September 7, 2004 F5 Networks released version 9.0 of the BIG-IP software in addition to a new collection of BIG-IP appliances on which customers could run said software. Version 9.0 was significantly different than the previous versions of BIG-IP. The significant changes include:
- Moved from BSD to Linux to handle sys management functions (disks, logging, bootup, console access, etc.)
- Creation of a Traffic Management Microkernel (TMM) to directly talk to the networking hardware and handle all network activities
- Creation of the standard full-proxy mode, which fully terminates network connections at the BIG-IP and establishes new connections between the BIG-IP and the real servers. This allows for optimum TCP stacks on both sides as well as the complete ability to modify traffic in either direction.
On April 3, 2009, F5 Networks released version 10.0 of the BIG-IP software. BIG-IP v10 is a major release supporting the company goals of "Unified Application and Data Delivery Services". This is the company vision on how applications, servers, storage, and network resources are managed in an organization.
Version 10 of BIG-IP contained new features to reduce latency, remove congestion or other impediments. Application delivery is enhanced by features such as symmetric adaptive compression operates between any two BIG-IP appliances, providing the data reduction, optimization and acceleration found in WAN traffic optimization products.
BIG-IP software features 
- iControl Application Programming Interface (API): an open API for management of the BIG-IP
- iRules: a TCL-based scripting language allowing arbitrary manipulation of traffic flowing through the BIG-IP, including real-time modification of said data.
The FirePass is an SSL VPN appliance and comes in the following models:
|Model||Recommended Concurrent Users|
|FirePass Virtual Edition||Up to 2000|
- Granular access control: grant users different sets of privileges based on who they are, what client they are on, and where they are coming from. When combined with an authentication server such as Active Directory or LDAP, the group memberships for the user can determine which resources they can access with fine-grained control.
- Access through firewalls: IPsec connections may be blocked by firewalls or proxy servers while port 443/TCP is almost always allowed.
- Endpoint security: the client can be checked for an active virus scanner, registry entries, personal firewall, etc., before being allowed access to the network.
- In addition to providing full network access like IPsec, the FirePass can provide access to only one server and port, and provide portal access to web sites and file shares, thus eliminating the need for any network access.
ARX Series 
The ARX series is a series of file virtualisation appliances that use technology F5 acquired through its acquisition of Acopia Networks. The devices work as proxies for CIFS and NFS, enabling administrators to control where files physically reside based on policies for age, file type, etc. whilst presenting users with a single target.
Enterprise Manager 
The Enterprise Manager appliance optionally provides centralised management of multiple F5 BIG-IP devices.
- "F5 Networks Form 10-K". Retrieved 2012-05-02.
- "100 Fastest-growing companies". CNN. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "Magic Quadrant for Application Delivery Controllers". Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "Quick Takes: F5 lassos uRoam". Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "F5 snaps up MagniFire". Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "F5 to acquire Swan Labs". Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- "F5 Networks Completes Acquisition of Acopia Networks". Retrieved 2010-08-17.
- "F5 Acquires Intellectual Property Assets of Crescendo Networks". Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "F5 Networks Acquires Traffix Systems". Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "F5 Networks Acquires LineRate Systems". Retrieved 11 Feb 2013.
- "BIG-IP Hardware Data Sheet". Retrieved 2010-08-17.
- "Press Release". Retrieved 2012-05-02.
- "FirePass Data Sheet". Retrieved 2010-08-17.