F5: Security Stars Are Aligned


Timing is everything, as the onetime 'load-balancer' company makes its move


According to partners, F5 has been discussing its security ambitions with the channel for years. That it would compete with the incumbent firewall vendors was inevitable, solution providers said, adding that F5 is well equipped to do the job based on how comfortably its value proposition ties a security conversation to a data center and infrastructure conversation.

“There are so many people playing in that next-generation firewall space, and being that it’s sort of a newer area of a huge market, it’s natural that people have their hats in the ring,” said Helen Lesser, executive vice president at Nexum, a Chicago-based solution provider. “At Nexum, it’s a matter of doing what’s best for your customers. There are F5 solutions that are a better fit for some than for others.”

“For us, it’s a fundamental approach,” said Mike Bossert, executive vice president of sales and marketing at FishNet Security, an Overland Park, Kan.-based solution provider. “The investment on the security side has aligned with the focus that we have because our business is starting to change and our infrastructure focus is starting to expand. F5 is a market leader and its offer is stable, scalable and security-minded.”

Tony Balistrieri, vice president of partner strategy at FusionStorm, a San Francisco-based solution provider, said F5’s products are relevant to each of FusionStorm’s major growth areas for data center sales -- confirming F5’s popular depiction of itself as “the Swiss Army Knife of the data center.”

“If you look at the growth of storage, at the changes in the computing platform with virtualization, and the growth around converged infrastructure environments, F5 is a major part of how we’re moving all these applications around,” Balistrieri said.

Global integrator Dimension Data, which was acquired by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone In 2010, is a recently recruited F5 partner-- quite a statement considering its position as one of Cisco’s largest global solution provider partners. The company has seen success taking F5 products into its existing customer base, said Dan Moseley, vice president, sales, Dimension Data America.

“Some clients like best-of-breed, depending on what they’re looking for,” Moseley said. “There are applications we can apply this to. ... It’s a services-led, consultative approach where you can get them talking about business needs, and F5 fits well there.”