F5 Rolls Out Evaluation Program To Partners

Under the new program, dubbed StrongBox, F5's North American channel partners can purchase up to two Big-IP 5100 application switches at the vendor's hardware cost of $5,595 each and use them to set up customer evaluations, said Tom Pettigrew, vice president of global channels and emerging markets at F5, Seattle.

Partners can then customize the evaluations by implementing 30-day or 45-day keys to various F5 software modules, including its Big-IP local-area traffic manager, 3-DNS wide-area traffic manager or Link Controller connectivity monitor for multihomed networks. Solution providers can obtain the keys by filling out an online form.

Once the evaluation is complete, partners can reset the boxes to use at the next customer site.

"Partners have been asking us for a way, at a low cost, to build up their inventory to use as evaluation units," Pettigrew said. "All early indications are that this will be very successful," he said.

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Within three to six months, F5 expects to open the program to include other product lines, such as its Big-IP 2500 and 1000 hardware platforms, and remove the two-unit restriction, Pettigrew said. The company also plans eventually to open the program to partners worldwide, he said.

StrongBox complements the vendor's existing demo program, which enables partners to purchase up to one unit in each product line per year at a discount. Partners can resell units purchased under the demo program but cannot resell units purchased through StrongBox since the new program offers a steeper discount, Pettigrew said.