Application delivery controller manufacturer A10 Networks rolled out new hardware, pricing and connectivity with a range of SDN and cloud services today, in an announcement that serves to underline the company's recent recovery.
Lumping the new releases together under the umbrella term “aCloud Services Architecture,” A10 said that new versions of its Thunder series of appliances, featuring support for network virtualization via VXLAN and NVGRE would be made available immediately, as would virtualized and hybrid versions of those physical appliances.
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Also available immediately are cloud integration with both OpenStack and Microsoft load balancers, and new payment options in the form of rental and utility pricing models for IaaS shops. Later in the first quarter and in the second quarter, A10 says it will offer integration with Hyper-V network virtualization, IBM’s load-balancer-as-a-service plug-in, and Cisco’s APIC management tool.
Coming off a painful legal defeat and its resultant poor press coverage, the San Jose-based company has managed to gain market share in both the carrier and enterprise sectors and is presenting itself as a credible challenger to more established competitors such as F5 and Citrix.
“Their business has been growing well over the last few quarters,” says Joe Skorupa, Gartner's vice president and distinguished analyst. “They’re winning some big deals.”
Skorupa rates A10 highly in terms of price versus performance, and says the company’s generally streamlined product lines help it stand out.
A10’s ADCs don’t have as many individual features as the competition, he says, but that’s still more than enough for most customers – and the slimmer feature set can help make A10 a bit more digestible for users.
“F5 has a ton of features – but there are an awful lot of customers that don’t use them,” Skorupa says.
Moreover, different underlying technology may be acting as a competitive boost for A10. Peter Christy, 451 Research’s networking director, said A10’s bang-for-the-buck advantage may stem from clever use of field-programmable gate arrays, rather than ASICs, for acceleration purposes. FPGAs, while traditionally more expensive to produce than ASICs, can actually be cheaper when made in small batches.
“FPGA acceleration can be faster than running code on conventional CPUs because you don’t have to use the memory for instructions and program data, just the data being communicated,” he says. “A10 believes that they know how to use FPGAs in this way effectively, and given the relatively high-price and low-volumes of its production the economics are OK.”
Christy says that overall trends are moving in a favorable direction for the company – specifically, more companies routing more traffic through the Internet and service provider networks, instead of their own.
“As enterprise ‘networks’ transition, A10 becomes more important,” he says.
Skorupa concurred, saying that – although A10 hasn’t been first-to-market with many of the technologies it talked up in the announcement – the company is introducing them at the right time.
“You don’t have to be there first to win … in many markets, being first means you spend a lot of time and money, you develop it first, you get it almost right – and then you have to go back and tweak it and tweak it to get it right,” he says.
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