Application delivery controller

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An application delivery controller (ADC) is a computer network device in a datacenter, often part of an application delivery network (ADN), that helps perform common tasks such as those done by web sites to remove load from the web servers themselves. Many also provide load balancing. ADCs are often placed in the DMZ, between the firewall or router and a web farm.


An ADC is basically an advanced load balancer, ADC & ADN are marketing terms invented by F5 Networks and other vendors to imply that scalable clusters require front end intelligence rather than backend intelligence. First generation ADCs, about 2007, offered simple application acceleration and load balancing.

In the beginning of 2013, ADCs often offer such features as compression, cache, connection multiplexing, traffic shaping, application layer security, SSL offload and content switching combined with basic server load balancing. Some also offered features such as content manipulation, DDoS protection, advanced routing strategies and server health monitoring.[1]


Application acceleration products were available from many companies by 2007, for example F5 Networks, aiScaler, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, KEMP Technologies and Strangeloop Networks.[2] Cisco Systems offered application delivery controllers, until leaving the market in 2012. Market leaders like F5 Networks and Citrix had been gaining market share from Cisco in previous years.[3]

The ADC market segment became fragmented into two general areas: 1) general network optimization and 2) application/framework specific optimization. Both types of devices improve performance, but the latter is usually more aware of optimization strategies that work best with a particular application framework, focusing on ASP.NET or AJAX applications, for example.[4]

For 2005, a market research firm estimated the ADC market at US$ 727 million, with major vendors including F5 Networks and Cisco Systems.[5] In 2012, Cisco Systems lost market share to Radware and other companies like F5, Citrix, Riverbed Technology and A10 Networks who became industry leaders.[3]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ann Bednarz (July 3, 2007). "Gear makers bundle network optimization features". Network World. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Jeffrey Burt (September 20, 2012). "Cisco Ending ADC Business, Ceding Market to F5, Citrix, Riverbed –". Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ Sean Michael Kerner (May 1, 2008). "Applications And Networks Need to Unite". Archived from the original on May 5, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ Paula Musich (April 3, 2006). "Application Acceleration Market Hits $1.2B". eWeek. Retrieved May 26, 2013.