F5 Networks will unveil an upgrade of its application traffic management software the same day rival Redline Networks is due to release a tool designed to help IT managers limit the need to install more application and web servers.
Both products fall into a category that analysts call web-enabled application delivery, or "application front ends". F5, Redline and other supplier offer appliances that usually consist of specialised switches running software to speed up applications and make them more secure.
F5's software upgrade, called Big-IP Version 9 and codenamed Buffalo Jump during development, took nearly three years to develop and includes a new traffic-management operating system, said Erik Giesa, vice-president of product marketing at the company. The software runs on three new appliances that are priced from $17,000 (£9,500) to $35,000.
Big-IP supports traffic management functions such as data compression, load balancing and Secure Sockets Layer acceleration. New features in Version 9 offer "rate shaping" capabilities that should help IT managers ensure that bandwidth is available for high-priority applications, Giesa said.
The application delivery products now on the market have been far too complex, said users and analysts. But F5's focus on a simpler user interface doesn't mean its new offerings are any less complex, said Mark Fabbi, an analyst at Gartner.
"These devices do an increasing amount of functions, and the amount of expertise needed to run them is increasing," Fabbi said.
Redline said its new 3G Cache software offloads used data from servers frequently to speed up processing. The software starts at $5,000 and runs on Redline's E/X 3250 appliance, which costs $33,000.
F5 and Redline compete with major switch makers such as Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks, as well as smaller companies such as Radware and NetScaler. Fabbi added that worldwide sales of the application-boosting technology exceeded $500m last year.
Matt Hamblen writes for Computerworld