Quick Take With F5 Networks' Dean Darwin

As F5 networks establishes itself at the top of the burgeoning application-delivery networking space, the company's vice president of channel sales, Dean Darwin, talks with VARBusiness executive editor Chris Gonsalves about how Seattle-based F5 is helping solution providers take advantage of this market.

VB: Why should VARs be excited about F5?
Darwin: We are the $100,000 solution that makes $25 million applications work. We say there's more to life than Layer 1. We have technology development relationships with Microsoft, BEA, SAP and Oracle, and we wanted to understand how these applications work and open that [opportunity] to the customers. This is a greenfield opportunity for VARs to go higher in the stack. We've started talking to VARs about the application layer, and I think our partners are seeing there's a different message beyond Layer 3.

VB: What kinds of VARs are successful at offering application optimization, and how are you attracting and retaining them?
Darwin: This crosses many areas--security, networking, storage. We tend to lead with application delivery. We're looking for VARs that have the ability to articulate to the customer how to protect applications and make them more reliable. Right now we have a three-tiered channel program with 320 partners. We just launched new programs for our top partners and are generating leads and forwarding them to those partners. The channel is 90 percent of our business, and every new opportunity is through the channel. We'll say no three times, and then disengage from a customer that's insisting on a direct sale.

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