F5 Networks, Inc. is a transnational company that specializes in application services and application delivery networking (ADN). F5 technologies focus on the delivery, security, performance, and availability of web applications, including the availability of computing, storage, and network resources. F5 is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, with additional development, manufacturing, and administrative offices worldwide.
F5's offering was originally based on a load-balancing product, but has since expanded to include acceleration, application security, and DDoS defense. F5 technologies are available in data center and cloud environments.
F5 Networks, originally named F5 Labs, was established in 1996.
In 1997, F5 launched its first product a load balancer called BIG-IP. When a server went down or became overloaded, BIG-IP directed traffic away from that server to other servers that could handle the load.
In 2010 and 2011, F5 Networks was on Fortune's list of 100 Fastest-Growing Companies. The company was also rated one of the top ten best-performing stocks by S&P 500 in 2010.
F5 was also named a Best Place to Work by online jobs and recruiting site Glassdoor in 2015 and 2016.
François Locoh-Donou replaced John McAdam as president and CEO on April 3, 2017.
On May 3, 2017, F5 announced that it would move from its longtime headquarters on the waterfront near Seattle Center to a new downtown Seattle skyscraper that will be called F5 Tower. The move occurred in early 2019.
In 2017 F5 launched a dedicated site and organization focused on gathering global threat intelligence data, analyzing application threats, and publishing related findings, dubbed “F5 Labs” in a nod to the company's history. The team continues to research application threats and publish findings every week to benefit the broader security community.
uRoam (SSLVPN vendor) for US$25 million in 2003
Magnifire WebSystems (web application firewall) for US$29 million in 2004
Swan Labs (WAN acceleration and web acceleration) for US$43 million in 2005.
F5's BIG-IP product family comprises hardware, modularized software, and virtual appliances that run the F5 TMOS operating system. Depending on the appliance selected, one or more BIG-IP product modules can be added.
On September 7, 2004, F5 Networks released version 9.0 of the BIG-IP software in addition to appliances to run the software. Version 9.0 also marked the introduction of the company's TMOS architecture, with significant enhancements including:
Moved from BSD to Linux to handle system 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 member servers in a pool. This allows for optimum TCP stacks on both sides as well as the complete ability to modify traffic in either direction.
F5 describes BIG-IQ as a framework for managing BIG-IP devices and application services, irrespective of their form factors (hardware, software or cloud) or deployment model (on-premises, private/public cloud or hybrid). BIG-IQ supports integration with other ecosystem participants such as public cloud providers, and orchestration engines through cloud connectors and through a set of open RESTfulAPIs. BIG-IQ uses a multi-tenant approach to management. This allows organizations to move closer to IT as a Service without concern that it might affect the stability or security of the services fabric.
Silverline is a cloud-based managed security service. Its offerings include security services such as WAF, DDoS, and Anti-Bot protection services. The Silverline services are enabled by BIG IP ASM, Shape, and NGINX technology platforms.
Cloud, container and orchestration solutions
In 2017, the company introduced technologies to make F5 capabilities more portable across a broader range of IT environments, including:
Application Services Proxy is an automated traffic management proxy that provides F5 services (and service portability) with containerized environments.
Container Connector combines F5's application services platforms (including BIG-IP and Application Services Proxy) with native container environment management and orchestration systems such as Kubernetes, RedHat OpenShift, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, and Mesos.