F5 Networks has agreed to pay Watchfire an undisclosed sum for its Appshield application firewall purely to kill it in favour of its competing system, Trafficshield.

In an unusually honest admission, F5 Networks has indicated that it is unlikely to use any of the intellectual property associated with Appshield, and the purpose of the deal appears to be to kill it as a way of removing a competitor.

"We’re reserving judgement on whether we’re going to integrate technology [from Appshield] into our product," said F5 Network’s UK spokesperson, Phil Crocker. "We may integrate, we may not," he added. Given that the two systems do much the same thing, this looks like a long shot.

The 250 customers of the soon-to-be-defunct product are being contacted in an attempt to win them over to F5’s Trafficshield, but any remaining support contracts on the system will still be honoured by Watchfire. "We’ll put some sweetners in place," said Crocker.

F5’s background is in traffic management technology, but last year it bought Israeli company MagniFire Websystems for $29 million to get its hand on Trafficshield. The long-term ambition appears to be to combine the two technologies into a single system.

For its part, Watchfire originally acquired Appshield as part of its buyout of the company that developed it, Sanctum, last July. At the time, Watchfire founder and CTO Michael Weider, hailed the deal as a good fit, but it now looks as if the company was really after the application security testing technology, which sits well with its own Appscan and risk management products.

The application firewall market is rapidly expanding as larger security players start adding this type of function to conventional firewalls, so buying Appshield won’t buy F5 Networks much time. The assumption is that the deal was attractive enough - or the price low enough - to make it worth doing.