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F5 Shoots For Graceful App Delivery

F5 Networks, which makes machines that help secure and speed applications from one computer system to another, agreed to acquire rival Swan Labs for $43 million in cash.

Swan Labs also makes hardware and software that speeds and safeguards applications, especially over Wide Area Networks (WAN) . WANs generally span a lot of ground, often connecting remote offices spread far apart to make sure each branch in a corporation is on the same page and can receive and exchange the same information.

F5 plans to integrate Swan Labs' WANJet and WebAccelerator into its Traffic Management Operating System, which provides a shared application and network services framework.

"When combined, Swan Labs' and F5's solutions will offer an integrated framework that extends application and network security, acceleration and availability to remote, branch, public and private users -- regardless of where they are coming from," F5 said in a statement.

The goal is to give Seattle-based F5 a larger toehold in the market for busting bandwidth barriers, which includes sharing files across wide area file services (WAFS).

WAFS is a hot niche of the storage space that lets users access a remote data center as though it were local.

The technology enables corporations with scattered branch offices to manage data backups through one system. Such access centralization is important at a time when enterprise workers grow more mobile by the day.

F5's top competitor was FineGround Networks, but Cisco purchased that company after it stuck its neck out with new WAFS products. Cisco had purchased WAFS startup Actona Technologies earlier.

F5 will take on some of Swan Labs' 42 employees in the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of F5's 2006 fiscal year. F5 expects to close Swan's San Jose office and move many of its employees to its own development office in that city.



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