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It's been a year of strong gains for F5 Networks, and the challenge now is for the company to keep growing at similar pace as it cements its position as the top application delivery controller (ADC) vendor in IT.
F5 executives used F5's partner conference in Chicago last week to make sure solution providers know how integral they were to that momentum, and to assure them that F5's emphasis on the channel is only going to get stronger.
"We're under no illusions that F5 by itself is doing this, though we do feel we have some fantastic solutions for the market," said Gary Abad, vice president of North America channel sales, in a recent CRN interview. "We're no longer selling load balancing. We're selling multiple control points in the data center. Partners need to be more and more equipped, and the channel will see much more coverage from us from a sales and marketing perspective."
In late July, the company reported $230.5 million in revenue for its fiscal third quarter, well north of the $218 million expected by Wall Street analysts. That figure was up nearly 12 percent from the $206.1 million it reported in the second quarter, and up nearly 46 percent from the $158.2 million in the third quarter a year ago.
Thanks to the changing nature of many customers' data center needs and the migration toward cloud computing environments, strong application delivery networking (ADN) solutions are in demand. F5's average number of deals over $200,000 has grown "dramatically," Abad said, and its average number of $1 million deals has grown as well.
"A $1 million deal for F5 was, a year ago, a big deal," Abad said. "We still do celebrate them, but there are a lot more of them coming now. What bears that out is the strategy that we have in not just leading with LTM (local traffic management) but leading with total ADN solutions."
Count on major channel investments from F5 in three major areas, said Abad, who joined F5 Networks in the North America channel chief role in December 2009.
Marketing resources will be one, additional channel systems engineers (SE) will be another, and in Chicago, the company announced a third: F5 Academy, a deep-dive training program to offer VARs more targeted knowledge. "It's not just teaching them about LTM for example, but the breadth of how big the opportunity for investment is there," Abad explained.
"I have to do a better job at utilizing our channel resources around their reach, their market and their customer base," he added. "You're going to see continued investment in areas we didn't play well in the past. We're going into our strategic partners and figuring out how we can do more around joint marketing. This is an important time for us to pick up our branding so you're going to see literally more capital investment from F5."