F5 Networks Top Exec And Longtime Channel Leader Is Leaving

Dean Darwin

F5 Networks worldwide marketing leader and former longtime channel chief Dean Darwin is leaving the networking company after more than a decade.

"Dean was responsible for the foundation and the building blocks for F5's channel program, which still today in my opinion is one of the best channel programs that is out there," said Jim Quarantillo, a partner at Reston, Va.-based solution provider and F5 partner GuidePoint Security. "He was very key to the channel experience that F5 has fostered. … He's always had his hand in the channel no matter what role he was in."

Darwin was senior vice president of worldwide marketing chief for the Seattle-based vendor and served as senior vice president of F5's Worldwide Partner Organization from 2005 to 2013.

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"After almost 11 years at F5, I have decided it was time for a break," wrote Darwin in a Nov. 21 blog post. "Going to take some much needed time off and recharge the batteries and figure out the next chapter of my life. After 8 years of building the worldwide channel for F5 and then spending the last 3 years leading F5's marketing, I think I now know a thing or two about transformation."

Darwin said he's proud of helping F5 grow into a $2 billion company. He was also fundamental in driving F5's revamped security push over the past several years, according to Quarantillo.

"In the later years, he moved into embracing security in the channel and looking at resellers, VARs, a security company like us that [focuses] on security, and helping bridge that conversation and that enablement for partners into security," said Quarantillo. "Dean did a lot of really good things for channel enablement to get that security message through our engineers and sales reps. … He was crucial for all of that."

In a statement to CRN, F5 confirmed Darwin's departure.

"Dean’s leadership has been instrumental in building up F5’s marketing, communications and channel teams to the high-functioning and well-respected organizations they are today," said F5. "Dean has introduced and led a number of strategic initiatives at F5, including the global launch of the UNITY Partner Program, the roll-out of our Synthesis vision, and more recently, the complete revamp of f5.com."

Unity, which was established in 2008, includes partner incentive programs, marketing resources, online tools, training, qualified leads, tiered discounts and a partner portal, among other tools and advantages for partners.

F5 said a search for Darwin's successor is underway, and in the interim, its marketing team will report to Julian Eames, chief operations officer.

"I'm sure F5 is going to fill that role with someone who can fit and jump right in," said Quarantillo. "They'll do everything they can to fill Dean's shoes."

Before his work at F5, Darwin served in executive roles at companies including Cisco, RadioFrame Networks and NetApp, according to his Linkedin profile.

"[I'm] going to disappear over the holidays and come back ready to go into 2016 excited to see what is next," said Darwin.