CRN Exclusive: F5 Extends Services Opportunity For Channel Around Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

F5 Networks is giving its channel partners a new service opportunity around the fast-growing markets of hyper-converged and converged infrastructure through its new strategic partnerships with Nutanix and SimpliVity.

The application delivery controllers leader has unveiled its new ability to deliver its software-defined application services (SDAS) through hyper-converged and converged infrastructure offerings.

"This represents a new route to market for F5," said Keith McManigal, vice president, Americas Channel Sales, at Seattle-based F5. "For channel partners, this means selling more product, attaching more services and becoming a more strategic partner to their customers."

[Related: Here's Who Made Gartner's Magic Quadrant For Application Delivery Controllers]

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F5 formed partnerships earlier this year with hyper-converged specialists Nutanix and SimpliVity. Partners can now use SDAS to manage applications deployed using a Nutanix or Simplivity platform, which enables enterprises to simplify their virtual environments, provide unified secure access, boost application performance, improve productivity and protect critical applications, F5 said.

McManigal said product sales will increase because partners can attach F5's application delivery platform Big-IP hardware and virtual solutions to applications being deployed. Additionally, by positioning SDAS with the integrated systems, partners can deliver implementation, configuration and management services, he said.

Roger Singh, co-founder of Scalar, a Toronto-based solution provider and F5 partner, said he's seeing an influx of customers seeking hyper-converged and converged solutions -- which fits perfectly with F5's service offerings.

"We're seeing customers increasingly ask for these solutions, which is a sign that the customers' IT departments from an operational perspective have become less siloed," said Singh. "Purchases like storage and servers are happening in a combined manner now and that's part of the drive to why we continue to see more converged solutions and requests from customers."

Spending on integrated systems like converged infrastructure will grow to $20.5 billion by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 19 percent over the next four years, according to a report from market researcher Gartner. Research firm IDC estimates that the hyper-converged market specifically will hit $806.8 million in sales this year, growing to $1.57 billion in 2016.

McManigal said the partnerships provide the channel with the ability to deliver SDAS to both small businesses and large enterprises. Singh said he expects the new services to drive profitability for Scalar and the channel.

"From a channel perspective, there's a lot of opportunities when we look at this, because we're talking about not only the hardware portion of this, we're actually talking about the application software portion," he said. "If you look at the converged vendors, whether that’s a Nutanix, a SimpliVity or even a VCE, you put F5 together with software, tying that all together, that's a great opportunity for the channel and that's why we're so jazzed about it."

McManigal said Nutanix and SimpliVity partnered with F5 because it is the leader in application delivery controllers, and all apps running on their hyper-converged offerings need SDAS.

"Nutanix as well as SimpliVity do not provide high availability, stringent security and optimal performance services by themselves," he said. "Partners will be able to grow their infrastructure business and their SDAS business by taking advantage of this tremendous growth opportunity."

On Wednesday, F5 released earnings for its fiscal 2015 fourth quarter, which saw revenues reach $501 million, up 8 percent year over year. The company also reported record earnings per share at $1.36.

Total revenue for FY15 hit $1.92 billion, up 11 percent from FY14's revenue. Service revenue accounted for about 49 percent of total revenue for the year, at $928 million, representing a 17 percent increase over FY14's.