Partners: New F5 Program Will 'Take Us To The Next Level'

F5 Networks partners are going to have the unique experience to be able to shadow F5 professional services consultants and participate in customer implementations. The new Guardian Fast Start training program launched Wednesday is meant to help solution providers grow revenue and expertise.

"Shadowing is going to help our engineers be able to see the depth and breadth of how F5 is deployed in the data center, and it's going to help us be able to figure out where our services should be directed," said Jim Quarantillo, a partner at the Reston, Va.-based solution provider GuidePoint Security, an F5 partner.

"For them to put [out] a program like this, to bring us up to speed on more advanced technologies not only helps us bring more revenue into our business around services, but also helps unload F5 from needing to carry the brunt of that work," said Tim Kazsuk, practice manager for data center technologies at Nexus, a Dimension Data company and F5 partner.

[Related: 5 Takeaways From Juniper's New Partner Program]

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Jim Ritchings, senior vice president of worldwide channels for F5, told CRN that the Seattle-based vendor launched the new global channel program to empower partners to deliver advanced F5 implementations to their customers through new training on F5 products and solutions, technical certification, professional shadowing and delivery.

"The objective is very simple: We want more partners, and the engineers within those partners, to be certified and approved to do these implementations," said Ritchings. "We're not a professional services company -- we're a product company. We have a professional services organization because we have to, but we would rather enable the partners to help us scale this capability for the customer than to go and hire consultants ... Partners will enjoy a richer, bigger revenue stream."

F5 closed its 2014 fiscal year at $1.7 billion, up $300 million from the previous year, according to Ritchings, with the ultimate goal to triple channel partners in 2015.

"What this fast start program represents is our desire to accelerate the pace on which we're getting our partners enabled," said Ritchings. "We really do want to triple the amount of partners this year."

Solution providers are especially excited about the fast start program because it will allow their employees and engineers to shadow F5 experts in the field with customers.

"You can't get that real customer experience in a classroom of how the unique intricacies of the product are leveraged by actual real-life customers," said Quarantillo. "So for our engineers, going and shadowing an F5 expert in a real-world environment, seeing how the different modules stack onto the core products, is going to be key."

Quarantillo sees his company growing through the fast start program by being able to identify new opportunities, such as integrating with Splunk or Cisco partners, after becoming experts in F5 products and services.

"It's going to let us drag other services and products into GuidePoint," said Quarantillo. "We think it's going to help both our VAR and services business."

NEXT: Partners Will See Higher Margins, Increased Revenue

Partners who complete the program also will see increased services revenue, higher margins and improved customer engagement, including post-sales professional services, according to Ritchings.

Kazsuk said the program will take his company's services offerings "to the next level with our clients."

"This is definitely an opportunity for us to become more sticky and engaged with our clients around professional services, and to be able to offer them more than what we currently do," said Kazsuk.

Ritchings said partners need deeper technical proficiency and consulting capabilities in order to grow alongside F5.

The new Guardian Fast Start program aligns with F5's already established Guardian Professional Services Program, designed to help partners that have accepted consulting and professional services practices to develop deeper strategic customer relationships, according to a release by F5. In October, F5 will make it a requirement for Platinum and Gold partners to become a Guardian member, according to Ritchings.

"It gives F5 a broader reach and allows [partners] to do more projects," said Ritchings. "Partners are getting service business they weren’t getting beforehand ... This all speaks to profitability."