F5 Networks' Big-IP gear can now support two-way web acceleration between sites.

The company has upgraded its software to speed up traffic between two of the devices rather than just between an individual user and a Big-IP Web Accelerator box.

The new symmetric capability makes it possible to tighten response times between web applications and users by putting a Big-IP accelerator at both ends of key connections, F5 said.

Previously, the devices sat in front of datacentres and boosted server response time to individual computers. With the new software, the boxes can talk to each other and use further WAN acceleration techniques to speed up transactions, the company said.

Other vendors such as Expand, Juniper, Packeteer, Riverbed and others have sold two-ended acceleration devices for years. The new capability for F5 is a result of its purchase two years ago of WAN acceleration vendor Swan Labs.

F5 customer Averitt Express, a trucking company, is considering installing extra F5 boxes at customer sites to boost response times to applications hosted at its headquarters. Averitt runs trucking operations for some of its clients, which requires frequent access to the web applications by the customers and by Averitt employees stationed at customer sites, said Tim Saylor, director of IS for the company.

While the company has not tested the gear yet, Saylor said if it works as advertised, it could improve customer satisfaction. If customers don't renew their contracts it leaves Averitt with trucks and drivers it invested in just for that customer. By boosting response times, it could also help Averitt employees located at customer sites work more efficiently, he said.

The alternative to faster response times has been installing separate Internet connections at customer sites rather than relying on customers' sometimes inadequate connections, Saylor says.

He says the one-ended use of Big-IP boxes improves response times 60 percent, and expects the two-ended configuration will improve it even more.

The software upgrade is available now free to customers with service contracts. Additional Big-IP devices to support two-ended acceleration sell for their standard prices, $40,000 for an appliance and $15,000 for a web accelerator card.

F5's Web Accelerator recently won a Techworld award for best web accelerator.