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The other big piece of F5 news emerging from Agility this week is that F5 will for the first time have a global distributor.
Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Westcon Group, which was already partnered with F5 on a regional basis in the Americas, EMEA and parts of Asia Pacific, will now offer the F5 portfolio across the world, and work with F5 on global programs for solution providers, MSPs and cloud services providers equipped to do multi-national customer engagements.
"Our worldwide support infrastructure was created to nurture service provider business relationships," said Patty Gray, Westcon's vice president of global technology strategies. "It's a natural evolution to broaden these services and apply them to a global channel approach working alongside F5 -- which is a true value-differentiator for both partners and customers."
Gray said one of Westcon's advantages is that it can take a single global purchase order and ship it to multiple countries while providing in-country invoicing, currency exchange, standard reporting and global logistics. Westcon is installing a global vendor manager, reporting to Gray, who will spearhead what Gray called a "new governance framework to manage the relationship."
F5 has about 70 distributors worldwide, each focused on a particular region. It will be looking to grow partners that can sell multi-national, but F5's Darwin said it will also continue protect regionally-focused partners through deal registration to minimize channel conflict.
"Under Unity, we make our partners choose their distribution and we're 100 percent deal-reg," he said. "We are not at all going to let everyone go out and work in other partners' channels just because they can do multi-national. Half of our channel gets invalid in some form of multi-national engagement anyway, but because we know which partners source from where, we can make smart decisions so no one takes anyone else's business unfairly."
"Westcon has the ability to report both locally and globally -- all sales with all vendors," added Gray. "In addition, F5 has a global registration program that protects partners for the upfront work provided. The combination of the two will ensure that partners who do the work will be rewarded for their efforts."
F5 partners should expect a continuing emphasis on training and certification, Darwin said, and F5 will continue to absorb the cost so partners don't have to pay for it. Darwin said that's one of the things that sets F5 apart from other major vendors.
"Some of them control their partners by the cost of entry. It's, 'Hey, you can sell cloud, but you need these 16 certifications to do it,' " Darwin said. "What that gets you is that small partners say, 'I can't afford that,' and the big partners grumble. So we don't have that methodology."