F5's Cohesion Program: IaaS Providers, VARs Working Together


With more customers consuming data center and infrastructure resources via the cloud, IaaS providers and VARs are forging uneasy alliances -- or competing -- in an attempt to determine who owns the customer spend and who should get paid and when for particular cloud-based opportunities. But under a new program designed to expand its Big-IP application delivery networking product footprint, F5 is trying to broker more cooperation between IaaS companies and traditional resellers -- and make everyone more money in the process.

F5 Wednesday rolled out its Cloud Licensing Program (CLP), a global offering through which it will offer virtual editions of its Big-IP products to IaaS providers.

That solves a two-fold problem, said Dean Darwin, F5 senior vice president, worldwide channel sales. On the one hand, IT managers looking at cloud applications feel better about relinquishing control of IT resources that IaaS providers are delivering off-premise.

[Related: F5: Security Stars Are Aligned]

On the other, IaaS providers don't incur additional costs trying to purchase infrastructure to support those customers -- who aren't always sure about expected volumes or usage needs -- because they can now offer F5 BigG-IP functionality under a utility billing model that provides customers what they want while charging the IaaS provider only for the number of instances in use.

"It's a customer who says, I want a Big IP in the cloud but I want to have the same type of Big IP iRules [features] that I have in my data center," Darwin explained. "So what we're basically doing is allowing our cloud partners to rent our VE products and then use them to spin up or spin down instances on demand."

Where F5 VARs can play in these IaaS-centric opportunities is under a new F5 channel program called Cohesion, under which solution providers can earn a two-year revenue stream for finding and registering deals and bringing in IaaS providers to fulfill customer cloud requirements.

Rather than cut partners out of cloud-centric deals, Darwin said, F5 wants to encourage VARs and integrators to hunt down and engage with IaaS providers for customers by cutting them in for 10 percent of the deal.

Explained Darwin: "There are tons of IaaS providers around the world that we don't know about or engage with. So we say to the channel: You find an IaaS provider and you see a 10 percent annuity [on the deal] for two years without having to do anything else. You get the registration, it's signed under a cloud licensing agreement, and if they consume, say, $100,000 of CLP in the first month, that reseller gets a check for $10,000 that month. The more the cloud provider has a vested interest, the more the reseller gets paid. So everyone builds relationships."

The individual Big-IP products offered as virtual editions include the Local Traffic Manager, Global Traffic Manager, Application Security Manager, Access Policy Manager, WAN Optimization Manager, WebAccelerator and F5 Enterprise Manager.

Any authorized F5 reseller partner can engage with IaaS providers and bring these types of deals to F5, Darwin said. Where F5 is limiting partnership is that the CLP provider has to be an IaaS provider -- the model doesn't cover SaaS-type providers, for example.

It's F5's plan to build on Cohesion to offer more sales and business development opportunities to the channel and manage how VARs and IaaS providers interact so that all three parties -- channel partner, cloud provider and F5 -- can make money.

The model is no-risk for resellers, Darwin explained.

"There's no way for the the IaaS guys to screw the partner. The partner isn't reselling CLP," Darwin said. "You get the licensing agreements, sell them the hardware and walk away, then you get an annuity stream for doing that. There is a big opportunity for all of these partners to co-exist."

F5 has stayed focused on expanding its global application delivery networking footprint, but has also begun emphasizing related areas such as security and cloud infrastructure. The company recently promoted a new global sales chief, Dave Feringa, following the departure of former executive vice president, worldwide sales Mark Anderson.

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