Analysts described the software upgrade as part of an emerging trend toward new devices and software that will move application traffic based on XML and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), among others, throughout networks without the need for custom-built tools to manage an application's path through the network.
The new BIG-IP release takes F5 beyond load balancing of Web pages, a $500m (£323m) market that was saturated, said analyst Joel Conover at Current Analysis.
Conover said other small vendors are able to provide software to look at payloads of packets, but "most don't have the horsepower to do multiple applications at once".
While F5 describes this new market as application traffic management, some analysts term it application data routing. About 20 smaller vendors are shipping or developing XML switches, including Sarvega, that simplify the need for an enterprise to build custom tools, said Greg Howard, an analyst at HTRC Group.
Conover said F5's newest release might reach the speed of the Sarvega switch within six months for XML switching, but in its current state BIG-IP has the advantage of understanding any application protocol and any IP application.