F5 Networks' Dean Darwin: We'll Stay Pure Channel

F5 Networks is promoting application performance, cloud and security solutions to partners. Channel Chief says all of those sales will flow through the channel.

The VAR Guy

March 18, 2013

3 Min Read
F5 Networks' Dean Darwin: We'll Stay Pure Channel

At a time when many large technology companies are taking their top customer accounts direct, F5 Networks (NASDAQ: FFIV) Channel Chief Dean Darwin vows such a move will never happen on his watch. Indeed, partners drive 97.3 percent of F5 Networks’ revenues, and 100 percent of the deals are registered. The big priority for 2013: Making sure existing partners know they can push beyond application performance services to offer security services.

Darwin sat down with The VAR Guy in New York City, where the company last week opened an International Technology Center. The datacenter includes equipment from Cisco Systems, Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, NetApp, Oracle and VMware.

Showing partner preference, Darwin hosted VARs at the datacenter the day before an official ribbon cutting ceremony. His big message to partners: The lab is free for F5Networks’ partners to use for datacenter and application configuration testing.

F5 has been promoting security — in addition to its application expertise — for more than a year now. The company in 2012 offered enterprise organizations free security assessments through application security testing providers Cenzic and WhiteHat Security. For channel partners, F5’s no-cost security assessment was a door opener to the vendor’s BIG-IP Application Security Manager (ASM) Vulnerability Migration Assessment professional service.

Another big push remains COHESION, which allows traditional channel partners to engage with IaaS cloud providers. COHESION Emerged around the time that F% unveiled a cloud licensing program for IaaS partners. “We wanted to make sure our VARs could be a channel for our cloud provider partners,” said Darwin. “And we also wanted to help VARs create annuity streams.”

Meanwhile, Darwin continues to watch the convergence and consolidation trends in the data center. While VMware and others are talking about software defined networks (SDN) and software defined datacenters, Darwin says to “stay tuned” for more details about F5’s role at the application layer of SDN. Not by coincidence, F5 acquired LineRate Systems — an SDN start-up — back in February 2013.

F5 Networks currently has about 3,000 partners. Fully 100 percent of F5’s channel sales involve deal registration, and  75 percent to 80 percent of deals get approved. Distributors also remain critical to F5 Networks. The company rolled out a security accreditation program in December 2012, leveraging multiple distributors along the way.

Darwin’s key point to partners: Extend your businesses beyond the traditional application layer and make sure security is partner of the overall conversation.

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