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F5 Networks building next generation channel ecosystem

F5 Network's UK channel boss is on a mission to build a partner network that is able to meet the needs of the future and not just the present

It has been seven months since Neill Burton stepped into the UK channel role at F5 Networks and started to map out a future course for the vendor's partners.

Having come from a background, that before his recent spell at HDS, included a stint at Computacenter, Burton is well versed in understanding just what a vendor should be delivering to partners.

His main themes as head of channel for UK & I and South Africa re relevance and developing a next generation ecosystem to make sure that F5 becomes important to a greater number of partners.

In the months he has been on board there have been changes with managed service providers coming under the Unity partner programme and receiving greater support.

There has also been a concerted effort to identify the partners that have made a commitment to F5 and provide them with high levels of support.

But the more long-term aim is to position F5 as a company that is attractive to those resellers that are themselves planning for their futures.

"The ecosystem is going to include some different people. Some aren't even selling products but are influencing the customer's security strategy. We want to build that next generation ecosystem," said Burton.

To get that sort of channel Burton is well aware of the need for more education in the market and of making sure that it supports those that share the vision.

"I have around 420 channel partners in the UK and have to place bets around the top [performing]," he added that its distribution partners: Arrow, Avnet and Westcon were also helping to identify the valuable relationships.

"We are moving away from that concept of a reseller channel and it is a next generation ecosystem, where I am relevant," he added.

Some of the education is not just around where the channel is going at F5 but just what the vendor can deliver. Seen traditionally as a load balancing player the firm is keen to underline its position in the security market.

"Organisations that lead with security are where [we are seeing] the activity and the fastest growing partners," said Burton.

There is also growth in the managed services space and Burton is looking to work closely with those that are prepared to put F5 into their embedded architecture and put some commitment into the relationship with the vendor.

"The value I am beginning to see is that service partners are able to stand up new revenue streams to their customers. The service provider already has the assets and can now deliver a greater range of services to customers," said Burton.

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