Network and application security vendor F5 Networks Inc. has revamped its training program for its global network of channel partners around the world, featuring new Web-based training and accreditation programs.
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While not mandatory, Seattle-based F5 indicated that its partners who undergo the accreditation process may receive more benefits in its channel partner program in the future.
Modules include online security training
F5's new Sales and Technical Accreditation program has two tracks: one for sales training and one for technical training. All of the training is delivered via Web-based modules, with 10 hours of sales modules and 12 hours of technical modules. The modules are free and are accessed through F5's channel partner portal as part of F5's UNITY partner program, which was expanded to cover non-U.S. channel partners last year.
Security topics will be covered in both training tracks. Some of the online security training modules will cover SSL VPN, remote client connectivity, application firewall, DDOS attacks, AAA Authentication, as well as iRules and TMOS (which are F5 features).
We do reserve the right to adjust our partner tiers to include a number of accreditations to qualify for the higher tiers of our program.
According to Dean Darwin, vice president of global channels for F5, "This is an entirely new program, with fresh content, a new way of learning and a deep investment from F5 Networks to our partner community to help them learn and apply Application Delivery sales methodology and learning and increase their profitability."
New accreditation brand for channel partners
Currently F5 has a classroom-based engineering certification requirement for its partners, and that reseller certification program has not changed. The recently announced training modules lead to a new F5 designation of accreditation. In order to receive the accreditation brand from F5, the solution provider must take all of the modules in a track and pass an online test at the end of the track.
F5 states that the training modules are situational, presenting various scenarios and explaining how to handle the scenario from a sales or technical perspective. Eric Wolf, senior network engineer at Bedford Mass.-based Continental Resources Inc., had the opportunity to preview the new training modules.
"I didn't expect it to be so comprehensive," Wolf said. "Even though I deal with F5 products all the time, I still got a lot out of it."
While not mandatory, F5 left open the possibility that the training modules will be required for certain channel partner levels in the future. Darwin stated, "We do reserve the right in the future to adjust our partner tiers to include a number of accreditations per partner to qualify for the higher tiers of our program."
Wolf favors F5's tentative plan to use accreditation as a way of qualifying its channel partners. "It will help to separate partners that perhaps should be concentrating on other areas," he said.
Other security vendors have similar training programs in place that lead to certification. McAfee Inc., for example, has a program called Accreditation, Certification, Enablement (ACE) Partner Readiness Program which provides recognition and rewards for its sales and technical channel partners who have achieved the highest levels of certification.