F5 Networks has released a new version of its BIG-IP software, in order to bring application security, optimisation, and acceleration onto a single device.

BIG-IP v10 is software that can adapt to changing business requirement, claimed F5. The company said that services offered by the new software would improve handling of technologies such as virtualisation and cloud computing without having to completely transform existing systems.

The new software will help customers unify individual devices onto a single product said F5, consolidating three different products into one. BIG-IP LTM, BIG-IP WebAccelerator, and BIG-IP Application Security Manager (ASM) modules now all run natively on F5's TMOS plug-in architecture, meaning that customers will be able to make savings on power costs as well as savings on space.

According to Jason Needham, F5's director of product management, the upgrade fulfils the continuing need for intelligence from its customers. "This is a major release, every aspect of the BIG-IP brand has been touched. Even TMOS (the underlying operating system) has been updated," he said.

He added that one of the key aspects of the release was the need to include what F5 calls context-aware networking. Needham explained what was meant by this. "In application delivery, you can't have one size fitting all. For example, a company might want to make its Sharepoint implementation run faster, but the delivery of that particular application involves a lot of different aspects, and to optimally integrate that application, you have to integrate the different services."

Needham said that key elements of the new software include the streamlining of application delivery and a reduction in infrastructure costs. He added that the company would also be introducing a new set of security features to the product, but these will be added next month.

One key element of the new release is the inclusion of what F5 calls iSessions. This is the name that F5 gives to the framework that encrypts and optimises data between devices. This capability improves transfer rates, reduces bandwidth consumption, and offloads applications for more efficient WAN communication. Needham said to think of it as creating a tunnel between two devices, with the aim of reducing the bandwidth used. "It's a technique totally unique to BIG-IP," he said.

Other new software features include a new user interface, and for the first time, the inclusion of a dashboard. Needham said that the company was putting a lot of effort into the manageability of the product, something that he acknowledged had to be improved.

BIG-IP v10 and all associated product modules are available today.

Software product modules include BIG-IP LTM, ASM, WebAccelerator, Global Traffic Manager Link Controller, Message Security Module, and Protocol Security Module.