F5 Networks to Acquire Volterra to Push Apps to the Edge

F5 Networks announced it intends to acquire Volterra, which provides a platform for managing hybrid cloud computing environments, for $500 million.

During an analyst call, F5 Networks CEO François Locoh-Donou highlighted Volterra’s value as a platform for securely deploying applications to edge computing platforms using point of presence provided by cloud service providers and hosting companies, as well as data centers owned by F5 Networks.

F5 views the acquisition as a step toward building an edge computing platform through which applications can be deployed to the edge. A forthcoming open Edge 2.0 platform based on Volterra will enable IT organizations to deploy applications to edge computing platforms without becoming locked into a specific content delivery network (CDN), said Locoh-Donou.

At the core of the Volterra service is VoltStack, a distribution of Kubernetes that is curated and managed by Volterra. Organizations engage with VoltStack through the Kubernetes application programming interfaces (APIs).

Those Kubernetes instances are then integrated using VoltMesh, a service mesh instance Volterra built on top of open source Contrail software-defined networking (SDN) software, now known as Tungsten Fabric.

In effect, Volterra has extended the SDN platform to Layers 4 through 7 of the networking stack to address applications and API routing, and encrypting all communication between Volterra services. Those services are built using containers that enable the components to be deployed on an industry-standard platform. IT teams will manage application deployments and updates through a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based control plane developed by Volterra. Essentially, Volterra will become a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment for deploying applications.

Volterra previously positioned itself as a hybrid cloud computing provider, but as part of F5 Networks, the emphasis appears to be shifting toward edge computing platforms. That opportunity, though, is still relatively nascent. F5 Networks is only expecting Volterra to add $10 million to its revenue in fiscal 2021, the company said.

Locoh-Donou also committed to adding support for NGNIX proxy software, and the service mesh built on top of that platform, to the Volterra platform. F5 Networks acquired NGINX in 2019. F5 Networks also supports the open source Istio service mesh, which is built on top of Envoy proxy software, an alternative to NGINX.

F5 Networks said it estimates the total addressable market for its offerings over the next two years at $28 billion. F5’s preview of first-quarter fiscal year 2021 financial results estimates revenues in the range of $623 to $626 million, fueled in part by an estimated 68% growth in software revenue.

F5 Networks sees the opportunity to create a virtual edge computing platform that will drive revenue opportunities well beyond next year. To that end, the company said recruiting developers that can deploy microservices-based applications, as well as monolithic applications, will be a major area of focus for 2021.

Obviously, F5 Networks is not the only networking software provider that views the rise of edge computing as an opportunity to expand the scope of its offerings. However, as open source networking software continues to evolve and mature, it’s worth watching closely to see how networking services providers will differentiate themselves.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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