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Cisco earned lowly niche player status in new Gartner magic quadrant report while simultaneously losing market share
Mon, 11/22/10 - 6:12pm    View comments

Magic Quadrant for Application Delivery Controllers

GartnerCisco continued to earn a lowly "niche player status" in Gartner's new magic quadrant report for application delivery controllers.

According to Gartner, Cisco's been stuck in its "niche player status" for quite some time now (see Gartner's July 2008 report).

So what does Gartner specifically say about Cisco's niche player status?

Niche players provide more-limited capabilities and haven't demonstrated enough vision or focused execution to warrant a stronger position in our analysis.

CiscoGartner continued:

Cisco is bundling its Application Control Engine (ACE) into larger Cisco solutions including the Cisco Virtual Data Center Solution and Cisco WebEx Solutions to broaden the product's appeal.

However, lack of extensive application knowledge and features restricts Cisco's abilities in this market to areas where its virtualized solution and traffic management features meet customer requirements.

Although it remains the second largest player in the market, Cisco sells a large proportion of load-balancing solutions (not advanced ADC solutions) and lost 3.5% of market share during the past year.

Consider Cisco when you need basic features with scalable, multi-tenant virtual ADCs.

Cautions about Cisco

  • We continue to see a decline in client requests concerning Cisco's ADC solutions.

    This is also reflected in its continued market share decline, down to 19% in 2Q10, which is a decrease from 22.5% in 2009.

  • Based on client feedback, Cisco has demonstrated limited application knowledge, compared with its competitors, making it difficult for the vendor to help enterprises solve complex application deployment problems.
  • Cisco plans for a next-generation service architecture are not complete and have not encompassed ADC functionality, which puts the future of Cisco's current ADC hardware solutions in question. Cisco will need to update its ACE portfolio to fit into the emerging service architecture.
Strengths about Cisco
  • A focus on bundled solutions will appeal to organizations that do not have sophisticated ADC requirements.
  • Cisco has developed a "pay as you grow" licensing model to reduce the number of platforms to a minimum and to provide flexibility to its customer base.
  • On the ACE module, Cisco pioneered virtualized load-balancing features that are attractive for basic, but large-scale, infrastructure load-balancing requirements.
  • Cisco has a large and loyal customer base, combined with a substantial installed base of legacy load-balancing solutions. These customers represent an opportunity for Cisco to sell its higher-performance load balancers.

More niche players according to Gartner

A10 NetworksA10 continues to increase awareness in the market. Its primary approach is to deliver high-performance offerings at budget pricing.

We see little innovation from A10; however, it is emerging as a fast follower and creating a level of price disruption that this market has not seen before.

Consider A10 for a low-cost solution in cases where detailed application engineering and professional services are not required.

Cautions about A10 Networks

  • A10 has not demonstrated sufficient expertise to work in complex enterprise application and data center environments.
  • A10 has shown little innovation beyond price/performance. As a late entrant, it has attempted to follow the best of the ADC market vendors without adding much to the state of the art.
Strengths about A10 Networks
  • During the past 12 months, A10 has introduced new high-end platforms, a SoftADC and a range of features to ease IPv4 address shortages with a range of IPv6 support.
  • A10 Networks presents a straightforward and cost-effective approach to ADC's. A10 has shown growing success in the enterprise and service provider markets, primarily in Asia and, more recently, in North America.
  • A strong set of advanced ADC features, including compression and caching, as well as scripting and APIs, enables A10 to solve many application deployment issues. These features are available across the range of hardware platforms and come as part of the base platform.

Array NetworksArray has quietly built a significant presence in Asia, primarily in China and Japan.

However, that success has not translated into visibility or any significant number of account wins in North America and Europe.

Consider Array when looking for a cost-effective ADC solution in countries where Array has focused resources.

Cautions about Array Networks

  • Array's geographic focus requires that enterprises check local coverage capabilities in the other regions into which Array is selling.
  • Array delivers a mainstream feature set, but has not demonstrated the ability to deal with complex enterprise application environments.
Strengths about Array Networks
  • Array has enhanced its clustering solution to enable the product to scale into larger environments.
  • Array delivers a strong price/performance alternative to more-mainstream vendors, especially in its focused markets.
  • Array's offering continues to broaden with increasingly high-performance, application-focused platforms with hardware options for compression and SSL to boost performance.
  • Array Networks has demonstrated strong execution in the markets it is targeting. With 70% of its sales coming out of China and Japan, and a growing presence in India, Array represents a strong alternative in these markets.

Barracuda NetworksBarracuda's integration of its server load balancer and its AP ADC (advanced platform application delivery controllers) will give its customers an easy upgrade path from a simple device to a full-function AP ADC.

Unfortunately, many AP ADC buyers do not consider Barracuda, because of its reputation for cost-effective mid market solutions. This perception is not in line with the strong security-focused capabilities Barracuda offers in this market.

Consider Barracuda when a low-cost, security-focused solution is the primary requirement.

Cautions about Barracuda Networks

  • Barracuda's brand for ADCs is not as well-known in the large enterprise market.
  • Barracuda's professional services are not as strong as the leading vendors when complex implementations are involved.
  • Despite some movement toward a common code base and an upgrade path from the Barracuda Load Balancer to the Web Application Firewall product, there is still confusion between these two products in the market.
  • The level of investment in the application delivery features is somewhat limited, due to a focus on security features and the lower price points offered by Barracuda.

    Don't look for Barracuda to innovate (outside of price).

Strengths about Barracuda Networks

BrocadeBrocade continues to focus on the market for high-performance, basic ADCs.

Its recent Application Resource Broker announcement demonstrates that the product team understands the potential of the ADC to bring greater value in the emerging virtualized data center.

Consider Brocade where scalability and high throughput for a limited ADC feature set is a good match.

Cautions about Brocade

  • Brocade has not yet executed on its vision for virtual ADCs.
  • Brocade has been slower than the leading vendors to embrace AP ADC features and open APIs for external integration to provide more-extensible capabilities to the ADC.
  • Despite a noticeable improvement in features, Brocade has shown limited expertise in solving application performance challenges in the data center and generally focuses on solutions that do not require customization.
Strengths about Brocade
  • Brocade has a large installed base in SP and hosting facilities, which shows the proven reliability of Brocade's solutions.
  • Brocade delivers performance-oriented, standard ADC solutions that scale to the highest performance levels in the market.
  • Brocade's Application Resource Broker links with VMware vCenter to provide user experience monitoring and dynamic resource provisioning to ensure SLAs are met while keeping compute resources to a minimum.

Crescendo NetworksCrescendo continues to build an account base among Web 2.0 companies and high-traffic public websites.

Its clustering promises a scalable, pay-as-you-grow approach.

Consider Crescendo for ADC uses where its focused feature set is a good fit, particularly for public-facing Web 2.0 applications.

Cautions about Crescendo Networks

  • Crescendo has achieved limited market/brand visibility in the enterprise.
  • Crescendo is a relatively small vendor in a market dominated by a number of larger vendors.
  • Crescendo trails larger ADC vendors in delivering the broadest set of mainstream AP ADC features.
Strengths about Crescendo Networks
  • Crescendo maintains performance, even with multiple features enabled, via its hardware-based implementation.
  • Crescendo's cluster solution (HyperScale) enables customers to expand capacity without replacing existing CN7000 AP ADCs.
  • Crescendo developed an inference engine (termed Elastic Resource Control) that dynamically adapts ADC behavior to application load and mix, which simplifies configuration challenges.
  • Crescendo Networks has a broad set of AP ADC features, with a strong focus on Web 2.0 applications, particularly for high-demand public websites. These capabilities are delivered at an aggressive price.

Visionaries according to Gartner

Visionaries are vendors that have provided key innovative elements that illustrate the future of the market. However, they lack the capability to influence a large portion of the market; they haven't expanded their sales and support capabilities on a global basis; or they lack the funding to execute with the same capabilities as a vendor in the Leaders quadrant. Examples of innovation include the ability to deal with XML traffic or to be an early developer of client capabilities.

ActivNetworksActivNetworks has built an innovative virtual appliance AP ADC, combined with specific optimization for mobile traffic and video streaming.

Its list of European reference customers is impressive for such a small company.

ActivNetworks' latest fundraising and its expansion into the North American market may provide it with the resources to establish itself as a mainstream player in the ADC market.

Cautions about

  • ActivNetworks is a small company, with limited financial and personnel resources. As a result, ActivNetworks focuses primarily on Europe.
  • Although ActivNetworks has recently opened a sales/support office and joint development projects with Institut Telecom in Silicon Valley, the company has limited visibility outside Europe.
Strengths about
  • ActivNetworks products are available through IT service providers in EMEA (e.g., IBM, CapGemini and Atos Origin).
  • ActivNetworks provides a number of optimizations targeting delivery of applications and rich media to mobile handsets.
  • ActivNetworks delivers feature-rich, high-performance AP ADCs based on the customer's choice of off-the-shelf hardware. These solutions range from systems for SMBs to large enterprises.
  • ActivNetworks' advanced features go beyond typical Web application firewall and content transformation to include PDF optimization, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), JavaScript and custom image compression, along with custom optimization for dynamic Web applications.

AptimizeAptimize focuses on improving the performance of poorly coded, dynamic, browser-based applications. Fortunately for Aptimize, many commercially available applications fit this description.

Aptimize's WAX (Website Accelerator) is usually deployed in tandem with an AP ADC or with WAN optimization controllers (WOCs) to improve the effectiveness of these solutions.

Consider Aptimize as an ADC adjunct when diverse client support is required, and a high level of performance optimization is the primary goal.

Cautions about Aptimize

  • The product is generally deployed beside an existing ADC, making the solution an incremental expense.
  • Advanced WAX customization can be tricky, and it must be well-tested before deployment. Time zone differences can complicate this and other support activities.
  • Aptimize is a small company based in Wellington, New Zealand. As a result, its primary sales method is Web-based downloads, although it's starting to build distribution and reseller capabilities.
Strengths about Aptimize
  • Aptimize's WAX can be customized to obtain the maximum performance for critical applications.
  • Aptimize's technology has been hardened in demanding environments, including Google and Microsoft and Ingram Micro public websites.
  • Aptimize's WAX goes beyond TCP/HTTP optimization to perform real-time optimization for poorly coded, browser-based applications, including JavaScript merge; minification and shrinking; image resampling; spriting; inlining; and CSS merge, minification and shrinking.
  • Aptimize's WAX can be deployed in tandem with ADCs to deliver additional application performance and can also be installed as a service on Microsoft IIS servers or Apache Web servers. Evidence of this synergy can be found with the recent partner agreement with Citrix Netscaler.

StrangeloopStrangeloop is an innovator in HTTP performance optimization. The company heritage stems from a deep understanding of .NET deployments and optimization techniques.

The 2009 slowdown gave Strangeloop time to expand its solution, the Strangeloop Site Optimizer, and to focus on performance optimization for all HTTP applications. Site Optimizer is normally deployed with an existing ADC, but an OEM arrangement allows Strangeloop to offer a full ADC solution.

Consider Strangeloop (possibly as an ADC adjunct) when diverse client support is required and a high level of performance optimization is the primary goal.

Cautions about Strangeloop

  • At this stage of its development, Strangeloop is restricted predominantly to North America.
  • The Strangeloop Site Optimizer is generally deployed beside an existing ADC, making its solution an incremental expense.
  • Strangeloop is a small company, with limited resources, so prospective customers will need to ensure that engineering and support resources are appropriately committed to their projects.
Strengths about Strangeloop
  • Strangeloop performs customized optimization for each type of browser, making it a good fit when mobile clients are deployed.
  • Strangeloop has done a commendable job of tying performance gains into business value via analytics deployed during proof-of-concept trials.
  • A detailed understanding of modern development environments enables Strangeloop to provide some of the most effective optimization algorithms on the market.

ZeusZeus pioneered software-based solutions for mainstream, scalable ADC applications. It is finding increasing traction among cloud infrastructure vendors.

Its Zeus Elastic Application Delivery (ZEAD) platform attempts to make this a seamless architecture between the cloud and the enterprise.

Consider Zeus for all ADC requirements, particularly where virtual ADCs are required.

Cautions about Zeus

  • Zeus is a small vendor, with limited sales resources. Although reports of support capabilities are favorable, large enterprises should ensure that Zeus can provide the required level of support.
  • Some larger and more-established vendors (e.g., F5 and Citrix) with broad product offerings and strong brands have introduced virtual AD's with similar licensing programs. This could affect Zeus' ability to increase its opportunities.
Strengths about Zeus
  • Zeus has demonstrated excellent performance and price/performance on off-the-shelf hardware.
  • Zeus supports the broadest range of hypervisors, including VMware, Xen, HyperV, KVM and Oracle/Sun.
  • Zeus has had a clear and compelling vision for the AP ADC market, with solid products to back it up. Zeus understands the links between ADCs, application development and deployment in a virtualized world.
  • Zeus was the first vendor to deliver softADC with flexible licensing suitable for cloud hosting centers, application developers and a range of enterprise solutions. Zeus ADCs are available from a number of cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers, including AWS, Joyent, Logicworks, Datapipe, Voxel and Rackspace.

Leaders according to Gartner

A Leader exhibits the ability to shape the market by introducing additional capabilities in its product offerings, and by raising awareness of the importance of these features. Key capabilities for a Leader revolve around the AP ADC capabilities that focus on enterprise application capabilities. We expect a Leader to have strong or growing market share, especially in the AP ADCs, and to have solutions that resonate with an increasing number of enterprises. Expertise in complex data center application deployment is also necessary to be a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for ADCs.

CitrixCitrix was the first of the established vendors to deliver a virtual appliance version of its ADC, stealing the limelight from F5.

Citrix offers a broad set of feature-rich products, along with innovative go-to-market programs that include pay as you grow for hardware upgrades and leases for virtual appliances.

Consider Citrix for all ADC requirements, particularly where a mix of physical and virtual instances is required.

Cautions about Citrix

  • Citrix has yet to establish a broad online user community to promote and support its products.
  • Although easy to use, the NetScaler ADC products have somewhat limited rule-processing capabilities, when compared with programmatic approaches.
  • Not all the Citrix channels are capable of selling and supporting the full spectrum of NetScaler features; therefore, enterprises need to select their Citrix channels more carefully if they expect to take advantage of the full range of Citrix solutions.
Strengths about Citrix
  • Citrix is in a solid financial position, with an increasing share in the ADC market (13% as of 2Q10).
  • With its traditional software business, Citrix has a good understanding of the applications environment.
  • Citrix NetScaler has shown a comprehensive application delivery vision that rivals F5's, and it has backed this up with the first virtual ADC offering from a major supplier.
  • Citrix has a reputation for delivering high-performance ADCs with increasingly rich sets of advanced features. The NetScaler VPX Virtual ADC opens up new opportunities for broader deployment of ADCs, bundling ADCs into development environments and integrating into Citrix Xen Desktop hosted virtual desktop solutions.

F5F5 has remained the market leader during the past 12 months, and strong sales performance has enabled it to grow its market share (to 47%) and expand its lead over its competitors.

However, despite this success, continued application and software-focused innovation around application performance demands, virtualized data centers and cloud services will be needed.

Consider F5 for all ADC requirements.

Cautions about F5

  • F5 relies too much onhardware development and platforms to drive innovation. Its six hardware platforms are too many to choose from.
  • Enterprises need to engage with knowledgeable engineering and online resources to ensure they get maximum value from the product offering.
  • F5 has spent too much time expanding in adjacent areas and has not kept pace with innovations in performance optimization, softADCs and the development of a universal ADC architecture.
  • Continued restrictions on what software options run on lower-end platforms restrict F5's ability to meet requirements for midsize organizations. This has forced some customers to buy more-expensive platforms just to get features, not because they need raw performance.
Strengths about F5
  • F5 is a strong market leader, with a growing share and a strong financial base.
  • F5 Networks has a broad and comprehensive vision, with industry-leading understanding of the needs of application development, deployment and management.
  • F5 has developed a large community of committed users (using F5's DevCentral portal) that fuels the use of iRules to solve unique data center application challenges, creating an increasingly loyal and engaged user base.
  • F5's investment in iRules and iControl results in strong partnerships and loyal customers that would find it difficult to migrate away from F5. Integration with popular integrated development environments (IDEs), such as Eclipse and .NET/Visual Basic, also contributes to customer stickiness.

RadwareRadware has shown significant improvements during the past 12 months. The acquisition of the Nortel Alteon business has benefited the Radware and the Alteon customer bases.

Radware continues to broaden its portfolio to appeal to specific use cases (SIP Director, Mobile Internet Gateway), and its vision on how to deploy ADCs across hybrid public and private clouds is compelling.

Consider Radware for all ADC requirements.

Cautions about Radware

  • Radware lags in performance acceleration features that smaller vendors have introduced to the market.
  • Radware needs to execute on its vision, which includes new offerings for virtual ADCs and cloud solutions.
  • Despite showing significant improvement in the past year, Radware must improve its presence in North America.
Strengths about Radware
  • Behavior-based security capabilities are well-suited to emerging threats and illustrate Radware's commitment to integrated security capabilities.
  • Radware has a strong vision of how ADCs fit into a seamless virtualized and cloud-based architecture, and recently announced its Virtualized ADC Infrastructure (VADI) architecture.
  • Radware continues to leverage the Alteon assets acquired from Nortel (growing Radware's total market share to 9%) and has provided a comprehensive set of upgrades and support for this installed base.
  • Radware's OnDemand Switch enables customers to scale environments through license keys, reducing the number of platforms that cover a wide range of performance requirements. Combined with its five-year platform availability guarantee, Radware provides a platform approach that grows with customer requirements for an extended period of time.

What's your take, do you agree with Gartner that Cisco's just a lowly niche player in application delievery controllers?

Also, why do you think Cisco's losing market share in ADCs?

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