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We've talked about the competitive mix before and in application delivery networking, F5's base, that mix hasn't changed all that much. But as you grow into other areas like security it seems like you will be competing more with the likes of Cisco, Juniper, Palo Alto Networks, Riverbed, taking on new competitors as you grow out from that base in concentric circles. So how does that mix change?
It's an interesting question, and you're right, a lot of what we do isn't just load balancing sales, and we will come up against definitely Cisco and Juniper, to some degree Check Point though not so much, and probably Palo Alto over time, who knows. In the core businesses it is the usual: it's Radware, it's Citrix, it's A10. Not a big change.
You don't see Riverbed as a competitor?
Not much, no. We look at the number of our engagements and the win rate, and they're pretty much almost not on the charts.
I understand the differences between your data center approach and what they picked up with Zeus in application delivery controller technology, but you don't see your focuses coming more in line with the other?
I doubt it. If you look at the performance, it's maybe a 2-Gbps, maybe a 3-Gbps or let's say 4-Gbps for the sake of argument. Our mid-range VIPRION 2400 starts at 14-Gbps and goes up to 160-Gbps. That's just simple performance, and in an encrypted environment, forget it. There are so many constraints on what they can actually do, it's pretty limited. If you look at what we've got -- and all our modules come in virtual editions as well -- they're so far behind in that area.I'm not knocking on them so much as giving my opinion on the difference being so big between having a solution system and not having it.
You've talked in the past about how important your hiring philosophy --deliberate, careful hires especially among your top people -- is to preserving F5's culture. You haven't lost a lot of executives, at least compared to other companies. Were you surprised by [former F5 global head of sales] Mark Anderson's departure?
I was very surprised, and not happy. I don't mean personally unhappy -- he remains a personal friend -- but I didn't hide my reaction. I imagine things happening this week [Palo Alto's planned IPO] had some impact on his decision. But Dave [Feringa, former F5 America sales chief, who replaced Anderson] has been with the company for seven years and was in charge of 60 percent of our sales. It was just like when [Anderson predecessor] Tom Hull moved on, I promoted Mark. Now Mark's moved on, and good luck to him, and Dave's in. But the overall turnover with us is very, very low. It really is. Much as you don't like to see anyone leave, it does happen.
Any plans to add other executive-level positions at F5, like you did with Manny Rivelo?
We are filling Dave's position, and we had multiple candidates for that, so that shows you the bench strength. But I have been thinking. Manny's capability in security in terms of being cross-functional has been awesome. I have been pondering maybe a similar move like that.
PUBLISHED JULY 23, 2012