F5 Inc., originally named "F5 Labs" and formerly branded "F5 Networks, Inc." was established in 1996. Currently the company's public facing branding generally presents the company as just "F5."
In 1997, F5 launched its first product, a load balancer called BIG-IP. BIG-IP served the purpose of reallocating server traffic away from overloaded servers. In June 1999, the company had its initial public offering and was listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange with symbol FFIV.
In 2017, François Locoh-Donou replaced John McAdam as president and CEO. Later 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. 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.
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.
Application Services Proxy: an automated traffic management proxy that provides F5 services (and service portability) with containerized environments.
Access Policy Manager (APM): Provides access control and authentication for HTTP and HTTPS applications.
Advanced Firewall Manager (AFM): On-premises DDoS protection, data centre firewall.
Application Acceleration Manager (AAM): through technologies such as compression and caching.
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.
IP Intelligence (IPI): Blocking known bad IP addresses, prevention of phishing attacks and botnets.
WebSafe: Protects against sophisticated fraud threats, leveraging advanced encryption, client-less malware detection and session behavioral analysis capabilities.
BIG-IP DNS: Distributes DNS and application requests based on user, network, and cloud performance conditions.
BIG-IQ: 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.
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.
In 2019, F5 acquired NGINX, the company responsible for the widely used open-source web server software, for $670 million. The company supports the open source software as well as commercial versions of the software.
In 2020, F5 acquired Shape Security, an artificial intelligence-based bot detection company, for $1 billion. It also sells products to protect applications against fraud.
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.
In 2021, F5 acquired Volterra, an edge networking company, for $500 million. It sells SaaS security services.