F5 on the hunt for DevOps channel specialists

Security player is keen to make sure it has the resellers signed up to support its recent acquisitions

F5’s head of channel and alliances is looking to bolster the supplier’s channel to make sure it has the expertise onboard to support its most recent acquisitions.

The supplier should have been talking to partners at an event last month about its channel plans for this year, but like every other public meeting in the industry, it became a victim of coronavirus.

One of the main talking points that had been planned at that channel get together would have been around how partners can embrace the opportunities following the recent acquisitions of NGINX and Shape.

NGINX, which was picked up last March, in particular presents Neill Burton, head of channel and alliances at F5, with an opportunity to expand the partner base.

The firm extends the reach of the security player deep into the DevOps environment, and resellers with that sort of background are the ones Burton is looking for.

“We were going to be educating partners on the recent acquisitions,” he said. “Most of the partners are at the infrastructure end of the chain and don’t necessarily have relationships at the DevOps end.

“One of the things I’m looking for is new partners that can unlock those relationships at the DevOps end,” said Burton. “There is a huge community of influencers known as DevOps.”

Fraud and abuse prevention

Shape Security, which was acquired at the end of last year, plays much more into the existing channel base because of its fraud and abuse prevention technology. But even there, the purchase shows where the supplier is heading and where its channel needs to go. “From code to the customer, the journey has F5 components in it and I need partners that can understand that whole journey,” he said.

Burton said that as the business changed and the customer demands moved more around securing their applications and supporting digital transformation, the channel setup also needed to be adapted.

“We had a channel programme called unity for many years and we wanted to move in line with where we and our channel partners are going,” he said.

The firm launched its latest incarnation of the Unity+ channel programme last October, and is using that to support resellers and provide the framework to deliver rewards as the supplier moves to become an increasingly software sales-based business.

Unity+ also has a track for MSSPs, which are attracted to the software approach the supplier is increasingly taking.

Burton said the rewards were higher for those that were operating a software sales model, and it had encouraged more partners to sell ELAs. “Partners have helped to educate us up to that point,” he said.

The discount and margins schedules changed around Unity+ at the start of this month, so it’s still at the early stages with the partner programme, but Burton said the feedback from resellers had so far been positive, and that they could identify ways to be more profitable with the supplier.

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