What is an f5?

People have been using the word f5, as a synonymous of load balancer for years. The reason for this is that F5 networks invented the load balancer back in 1997.
So, when you ask someone in networking what is an F5? or what does an f5 do? the most likely answer is: ‘It is a load balancer’. However, this is a shallow answer. It is the same as describing Microsoft, as just the creators of Windows, we do know they do more than that.

F5 products and services line.

Nowadays, F5 technologies focus on the delivery, security, performance, and availability of web applications. As well as the availability of servers, cloud resources, data storage devices, and other networking components.

F5’s product and services line has expanded, into all things related to the delivery of applications, including local load balancing and acceleration, global (DNS based) load balancing and acceleration, security through web application firewall and application authentication and access products, DDoS defense.

F5 technologies are available in the data center and the cloud, including private, public, and multi-cloud environments based on platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and OpenStack.

f5 security products

The move to Security

F5 networks have been heavily involved in Security as well. The problem for them, is that Wall Street and the IT folks out there, don’t recognize F5 as a Security company. Which is a shame, because they do provide good products and solutions for Security.

One of these products is ASM (Application Security Manager), which is the product they acquire from Magnifire WebSystems, for US$29 million in 2004. ASM is a flexible web application firewall that, secures web applications in traditional, virtual, and private cloud environments.

BIG-IP ASM helps secure applications, against unknown vulnerabilities, and enables compliance for key regulatory mandates. After the purschase, they have continued developing ASM and imporving the product, keeping up with the demands and protecting customers from the latest threats.

Other offering related to Security is Silverline. Silverline comes into two forms:

  • Silverline Web Application Firewall
  • F5 Silverline DDoS Protection

Silverline Web Application Firewall

f5 silverline product

Silverline Web Application Firewall protects web apps and data, while ensuring compliance with PCI DSS. It is a Cloud-baed solution based on the ASM Module.

Silverline Web Application Firewall protects web apps and data, while ensuring compliance with PCI DSS. It is a Cloud-baed solution based on the ASM Module.

Silverline DDoS Protection

f5 Silverline DDoS

Silverline DDoS Protection detects and mitigates even the largest of volumetric DDoS attacks at layer 3-7, before they reach your network.

Is a fully managed cloud-delivered protection service, that detects and mitigates large-scale, SSL, or application-targeted attacks in real time, defending your business from even those attacks that exceed hundreds of gigabits per second. Silverline DDoS is based in the acquisition of Defense.Net for US$49.4 million in 2014

There are other acquisitions and products related to Security like:

  • BIG-IP APM, The SSL VPN product which replaced firepass, which was originally bought from uRoam (SSL VPN vendor), for US$25 million in 2003.
  • Versafe (anti-fraud, anti-phishing, and anti-malware solutions) bought for US$87.7 Million in 2013.
  • BIG-IP AFM, Advanced Firewall Manager, a high-performance, stateful, full-proxy network security solution designed to guard data centers against incoming threats that enter the network on the most widely deployed protocols.

The NGINX acquisition

Recently F5 networks bought NGINX. The company announced that it acquired NGINX, the commercial company behind the popular open-source web server, for $670 million. NGINX had positioned itself as a strong alternative to F5 in recent years. We will see what this means for F5 and NGINX in the future, but it is for sure a move from F5 Networks, to get a stronger foot in the Cloud Market and the DevOps community, which usually see F5 stellar product, LTM, as lacking the flexibility they need.


We think F5 will continue evolving according with the trends in IT, first the need for load balancing, then security and now Cloud and DevOps (hence the NGINX acquisition), however, the next time someones asks you what is and F5? we know you won’t just say: ‘a load balancer’ 🙂