F5 Targets Enterprise In Firewall Launch

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F5 Networks is revving to hit enterprise markets with an application firewall that differentiates by streamlining management and adding high-end security functions.

F5 Networks is stepping up its game into the enterprise and revving to compete in the application firewall market.

The Seattle-based network security firm rolled out its BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager, as well as slew of other security enhancements, marrying an enterprise network firewall with traffic management, application security, user access management and DNS security capabilities. For solution providers, the additional security features represent a strong channel selling point and  flexible springboard from which to launch dozens of specialized management and monitoring services.

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Going forward, that security component will be key.The firewall solution touts speeds and feeds that will give it a boost into enterprise markets, including 640Gbps of throughput, 288 million concurrent sessions and eight million connections per second. But where it’s trying to make a dent in the industry is with its ability to simplify management capabilities by blending necessary security mechanisms.

“There’ no silver bullet to protect against threats,” said Brian Lazear, F5 senior director of product management, to Channelnomics. “It’s difficult and there's a lot of sprawl. One key goals is to drive home is that integration story. And the simplification of network infrastructure is a big value add.”

Simply put, the solutions combine both network and security functions, an amalgamation that enables security rules and permissions to be streamlined into the firewall solution, while melding security and access policies with the organization’s mission-critical applications. The series of integrations also enable sophisticated logging and reporting capabilities that can be customized depending on users’ needs, which gives solution providers the ability to easily access security logs relevant in deeper compliance niches.

The integration is most apparent its firewall manager, which touts application delivery and intelligence aimed at raising security posture and better detecting threats. But the same streamlined management approach also drove  single sign-on improvements in its access manager for Web based, VDI and client server applications. Additional management tweaks also include features that support applications for Google Web Toolkit, which enable security teams to enforce application security policies, and better detect and mitigate clickjacking threats.

Ultimately that bodes well for security solution providers wanting to further build out niche monitoring, compliance and other security practices as part of their firewall management practice. And those streamlined management and scalability components also give partners a bit of a value-add when going up against Check Point Ltd., Fortinet Inc. or Palo Alto Networks Inc.

In addition to its firewall launch, F5 is extending its hardware, software and virtual offerings across its product portfolio – a move that furthers bolsters scalability and gives solution providers greater market tread in complex enterprise environments.

“We remain focused on offering the most capable physical and virtual ADCs to meet the growing needs of organizations, regardless of which IT and data center architectures they choose to pursue,” said Karl Triebes, F5 executive vice president product development and CTO. “With our broad portfolio of solutions, we offer efficient ways for customers to consolidate IT services in-house, as well as high-performance platforms that cloud providers can use to support their clients’ most demanding resource needs. Either way, organizations using F5 will have fewer devices to manage, and at a much lower cost than competitors charge for similar capabilities.”

That capability entails a virtual Application Delivery Controller, a tool built around its intelligence services framework and designed to help partners create and secure business critical application delivery.

The virtual edition of the ADC can in turn support virtualized environments such as Amazon Web Services, VMware vCloud Suite, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and KVM/Linux.

"People have made a lot of choices over the years,” said Alex Rublowsky, F5 director of product marketing, to Channelnomics. “The conversation we’re having with customer today isn’t about speeds and feeds, it’s about architecture.”

And with good reason. With a concerted migration to virtualized environments, especially in large-scale enterprises, more architecture tends to occupy a hybrid of physical, virtual and cloud platforms, making it complex and unwieldy. And by numerous reports, IT environments will remain in sort of architecture limbo for the foreseeable future, as more organizations slowly onboard virtual and cloud platforms in lieu of legacy infrastructure.

The resulting complexity also opens channel doors for management and optimization, among other things. Ultimately, those extended capabilities mean that partners have a few more inroads into enterprise markets, along with the ability to provide a wider range of services to a growing number of organizations now housing complex hybrid environments.

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