Application Delivery Controller Leaders according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant – Summarized

What is an Application Delivery Controller

According to Wikipedia, here is the definition:
An application delivery controller (ADC) is a computer network device in a datacenter, often part of an application delivery network (ADN), that helps perform common tasks such as those done by web sites to remove load from the web servers themselves. Many also provide load balancing. ADCs are often placed in the DMZ, between the firewall or router and a web farm.

The history of Application Delivery Controllers

Over the last few years there has been a transition from server load balancing to more advanced solutions. These solutions offer an enriched feature set offering additional functionality and greater focus on efficient application delivery.  Organizations have the need to improve the performance, reliability and manageability of application delivery platforms they use and support. As Gartner has stated in the past and I paraphrase; “Load balancing is a thing of the past. Organizations will be better served to focus their efforts on improving the delivery of applications.”

My intent when writing this blog was to understand what the industry application delivery controller leaders are offering today. Like other blogs I have created like this, &, I hope this blog can serve as a reference point for anyone looking to possibly invest in additional application delivery controller technology in the near future for their enterprise.

As we can see from the Diagram below, the usual suspects are top of mind when it comes to Application Delivery. However for the sake of keeping this blog in line with it’s title, we will concentrate on the Leaders.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Delivery Controller

This diagram was released in October 2013, but remains up to date

Application Delivery Controllers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Delivery Controller – Leaders


Citrix is the No. 2 Application Delivery Controller vendor in terms of overall revenue. Citrix has an experienced global channel partner program, which is very good at leveraging its existing customer relationship in XenDesktop and XenApp solutions. Citrix has established an alliance with Cisco and is successfully leveraging this to grow revenue. Citrix provides strong support for advanced features based on an architectural vision (TriScale), and a solid understanding of the application environment. It is an excellent choice for enterprises seeking a user-friendly solution for the broadest set of deployment needs.


  • The TriScale architecture serves as the foundation of Citrix’s flexible, cost-optimized deployment model. TriScale provides scale-up (pay as you grow), scale-in (device consolidation via multitenancy) and scale-out via clustering.
  • Cisco’s referral of Application Delivery Controller business from its former Application Control Engine (ACE) products to Citrix.
  • Citrix has opened its platform for integration and consolidation of external services, such as Palo Alto Networks’ WAF and VMware’s NSX SDN solutions.
  • Citrix has developed a good cloud strategy with its NetScaler VPX virtual ADC, and has added support for OpenStack and CloudStack, as well as VMware vCloud.


  • Although Citrix supports a XenMobile gateway for protocol acceleration of mobile clients, there is still limited support for asymmetric Web acceleration, such as HTTP and TCP optimization technologies.
  • Citrix continues to focus on predefined rule templates for ease of use. Although a broad set of rules exists, based on specific use cases, it offers less flexible rule setting than programmatic approaches.
  • The lack of a programmatic rule engine has limited the Citrix field engineering expertise that is required in some custom deployment situations, compared with other ADC leaders.


f5-logo-1cloudroad.comF5 is the market leader in revenue and innovation. Its application-life-cycle-focused innovation is centered on open APIs, such as iApps, iRules and iCall, as well as on platform performance enhancement. Some say that the complexity of this system is too advanced for some of F5’s channel partners and customers. F5 should be considered for all Application Delivery Controller requirements, especially the most demanding, in which integration with application and virtualization environments is critical.


  • F5 has a broad and comprehensive vision. They have grown to acquire an industry-leading understanding of the needs of Application Delivery, deployment and management.
  • F5 is the top choice for complex environments based on their internal knowledge base and understanding of diverse and custom application environments.
  • F5 has a feature-rich platform. This platform includes a highly flexible programmable interface via a programmable framework. The programmable interface includes the following:
    • iRules for data planes,
    • iApps for applicationcentric provisioning
    • iControl for management APIs and integration
    • iCall for control plane scripting.
  • F5 is hot on its cloud strategy  trail, for deploying Big-IP ADC services in cloud environments. These services include Big-IQ Cloud providing northbound APIs for integration with management platforms.


  • Although F5 has introduced on-demand, scale-up licensing price plans for hardware and software platforms, the price/performance level is still challenging for enterprises with more basic needs, and for the lower end of the market. F5 often does not steer its customers toward clustered solutions, or toward the use of its Virtual Edition software for production use.
  • The F5 platform because of its complexities requires enterprises to engage with knowledgeable engineering resources to ensure that they get maximum value from the solution.
  • F5’s a loyal community of customers use of custom scripting as well as integration with popular integrated development environments, However, the use of these customized features sometimes results “vendor lock-in” for its customers.


Radware provides a broad range of capabilities through its Virtual Application Delivery Infrastructure (VADI) architecture. This includes hardware, virtual and cloud-based delivery of Application Delivery Controller services. VADI provides a pay-as-you-grow model that supports scale-up and scale-out growth, and integrates enhanced security and application performance monitoring (APM) features. Radware continues to innovate, with the acquisition of Strangeloop for increased Web performance optimization and participating heavily in the emerging SDN ecosystem. Radware should be considered for all Application Delivery Controller deployments.


  • Radware provides the most flexible set of architectural features as part of its VADI
  • Radware offers investment protection with their guarantee that any platform purchased will support all software releases for a minimum of 5 years.
  • Radware FastView provides the deepest set of acceleration capabilities in the market. This is especially true for SAP and mobile application environments.
  • Radware is an active participant in a number of SDN ecosystems. This includes working with with VMware and Cisco. Radware is well-positioned as SDN, network functions virtualization (NFV) and network virtualization achieve increased mainstream adoption.


  • Despite a strong technical solution, Radware has been historically under-invested in sales and marketing and their go to market routes are not as strong as those of its leading competitors. Surprisingly, Gartner does not see Radware included in as many customer shortlists as would be expected during Application Delivery Controller selections.
  • Radware has recently introduced AppShape++ scripting, but does not have as much experience dealing with custom environments as other leaders do.

After mentioning the leaders in Application Delivery Controllers, it is important to also give a notable mention those the others in the space who have been identified by Gartner.

Application Delivery Controller Challengers

A10 Networks

Application Delivery Controller Visionaries


Application Delivery Controller Niche Players



Arrary Networks

Fortinet (Coyote Point)

Kemp Technologies

Barracuda Networks

Thank you to Gartner’s research for providing us the information and the strengths & weaknesses for the vendor’s mentioned in this blog. Hopefully you will find this information helpful when shopping for your next Application Delivery Controller solution.

Thank you.