F5's New Big-IP 12.0 'Opens Up' $500M Market For Channel; Adds Microsoft Azure Marketplace, More AWS Features

F5 Networks introduced the latest version of its Big-IP application-delivery software on Tuesday, enhancing its cloud and security services for partners while also becoming available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.

Big-IP version 12.0 was unveiled today at F5's Agility Conference in Washington, D.C., with more than 1,100 partners and customers in attendance.

"There's 194 new features that open up about $500 million of addressable market for our partners," said Keith McManigal, vice president, Americas Channel Sales at F5, in an interview with CRN. "It expands our market opportunities for our partners to make more money and find more opportunities around cloud, our traditional application delivery -- what we're known for -- and security."

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The Seattle-based vendor's Big-IP 12.0 software enables hybrid technologies through on-premise and off-premise deployments with new innovations to make it simpler for customers to unify software, hardware and managed service resources to achieve improved efficiency and cost savings, said McManigal.

Big-IP 12.0 also includes several integrated enhancements to F5's security and access solutions, such as improving its SSL capabilities and enhancing its protection against high-volume DDoS threats on-premise or in the cloud.

"Security is in almost every session we're having at Agility," said McManigal. "We're going after SSL, SSL everywhere, application access, application protection -- DDoS attacks are going up, people are out there trying to hack everything ... Security is absolutely a huge focus for F5."

Big-IP version 12.0 software will become available in September. The new version, along with Big-IP Virtual Edition solutions, will be added into the Azure Marketplace in October.

"As we look at the cloud, we're going to support Microsoft Azure. We're adding support for dynamic scaling for AWS, so more features in AWS for our partners," said McManigal. "We're providing more services to customers as migration heads toward the cloud ... There's big opportunities in cloud for F5 partners."

F5 also revealed a brand-new partner portal, Partner Central, which will go live within the next few weeks.

McManigal said F5's previous Partner Resource Center was outdated, and the channel needed a better tool to help gain new sales. Partner Central includes personalized content for specific regions, marketing materials, social media tools, integration with Salesforce communities and a better user experience, according to McManigal.

Zach Hays, partner specialist at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based F5 partner, was able to try out Partner Central and said the portal will increase sales for his company.

"It will ultimately give the tools and knowledge that our field sales teams need to go out, be educated on the F5 solution, then drive it down to the customers and drive business," said Hayes, whose company ranks No. 12 on CRN's SP500. "It was very laid-out, very intuitive, easy to navigate, the content was spot-on ... Anytime you can make it easy for your sales organization always is best practice."

Hays said WWT has seen "significant double-digits" growth in its F5 business in the last year.

One of the partner highlights at the Agility conference this year is hearing about the F5 vision from its new CEO and President Manny Rivelo.

In April, it was revealed that Rivelo would be F5's new leader starting July 1, replacing longtime CEO John McAdam, who became chairman of the board of directors upon his retirement. Rivelo joined F5 in 2011 and helped expand the company beyond its data center roots to include hybrid offerings with scale-out virtual editions, cloud solutions and as-a-service offerings complementing its hardware.

"Manny was very well-received in WWT," said Hays. "We believe he will catapult the business into new areas where maybe it hasn't been before."

The Agility Conference runs from Aug. 4 to Aug. 6, which includes keynote speakers retired General Colin Powell and former FBI cybersecurity special agent Christopher Tarbell.