F5 sees high margin channel in application delivery

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F5 sees high margin channel in application delivery
F5 Networks is pushing its top-level partners to enter the application delivery space, a market that offers high margin opportunities for solution providers, according to the vendor's channel chief.

The US-based vendor has been working steadily toward the integration of its traffic management, content acceleration, security and application switch products.

For channel partners, that means there is a brand new opportunity to build application delivery network solutions to help customers get the best performance out of their software and the network it rides on, said Dean Darwin, vice president of channel sales at F5.

"What's happening is our partners out there are not seeing F5 as a remote access company with a different silo that's WAN optimization, and with a different silo for our traditional Big-IP application delivery controller side of things. They're now starting to see all of these blend together into an application delivery network offering or architecture, and that's where the light bulbs are going off," Darwin said.

Channel partner, Merlin International signed on with F5 about a year ago to complement its BEA software practice, said John Trauth, executive vice president of government systems at the Denver, Colo.-based company.

"With all the BEA we're selling, we could deliver so much more value by putting F5 as part of the solutions we were rolling out," Trauth said. "We can fill in the gaps on security, increase the efficiency of network resources and increase the performance of the application itself by adding F5." By incorporating F5 into its solutions, Merlin typically adds several hundred thousand dollars to each sale in product and services revenue, he said.

Beginning next quarter, F5 plans to start rolling out new partner education and training initiatives to help its roughly 80 Gold solution providers move into the space. In addition, Darwin is looking to hire business consultants to help interested partners build up application delivery practices.

Applications are now driving IT buying decisions, and that means partners who can help customers make better use of their applications have something valuable to offer, Darwin said.

F5 partners don't necessarily have to resell applications from vendors such as BEA, Oracle and Microsoft, he said. "We're not asking them to tune Oracle 10G or understand the intricacies of BEA or SAP, but how it relates from an application perspective to the network is very valuable, and that's, quite frankly, where the huge margins come from."

Several F5 partners, like Merlin, are already making successful transitions into the application delivery space, Darwin said. Others said they see the wisdom of approach, but have chosen to take that path with other vendors.

While Adeara, does some work with F5, it prefers a multi-vendor approach to application delivery solutions, building them on products from Radware and Blue Coat Systems, said Bob Reny, account manager at the solution provider. "We typically go to market as a solution sale, not just a vendor sale," he said.

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