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F5 Vault program embraces incentives for F5 firewall, security sales

The Vault partner program uses incentives to increase visibility for F5 firewalls and its architecture bundle.

F5 Networks Inc. recently announced Vault, a global campaign created for F5’s worldwide channel partners that focuses on F5’s security products. The Vault program, according to F5, is part of a renewed emphasis on its security technologies. 

We’re not known for firewalls, but it’s the customer base that is really getting aggressive on deploying our technology.

Dean Darwin, senior vice president worldwide partner organization, F5 Networks  

By selling F5’s new security products, including their Internet and application firewalls, partners can receive incentives, monetary rewards and technical training resources under the new program.

Selling a top-line box can earn a partner up to $14,000, said Dean Darwin, senior vice president of F5 Networks’ worldwide partner organization.  Similar incentives are also offered to those who sell F5’s new architecture bundle, which includes several F5 products sold together at a lower cost than purchasing them separately.

According to Darwin, the Vault program is two-year campaign intended to incentivize the sale of F5 security products, where before they were sold solely on an opportunistic basis. The networking giant intends to generate more focus on security with the new program, he said.

“We’re not known for firewalls, but it’s the customer base that is really getting aggressive on deploying our technology,” Darwin said. When consumers learn how effective F5 application security products are, he said, they want access to them.

That access is often granted through F5 partners, who Darwin says are “coin operated.”

“[When talking to a partner], one of the first things out of their mouth is, ‘how do you improve our profitability?’ It’s not an issue of trying to push agendas,” Darwin said, rejecting the idea of some channel experts who think incentives always push technologies that are out-of-date or not useful to a particular consumer.

The products are new, and Vault is a way to teach people that F5 is moving into the security space without trying to push other vendors out, Darwin said. Partners don’t have to drop another vendor to sell F5 products, they are just offering a complimentary product with F5 firewalls, he said.

We come at the market from an application-centric mentality and then we’ve built a portfolio of other services around that and that’s always been our differentiator.

Manuel Rivelo, executive vice president of security and strategic solutions, F5 Networks.

Vault is a part of F5’s global partner program, Unity, and is a multi-phased program. The recent announcement relates only to the first of four phases of the Vault campaign, which includes features like F5 Elevate and expanded sales incentives.

Unity Platinum, Global, Gold and Silver partners can earn F5 Agility points for initiating and closing F5 security deals and for completing specific sales and business development activities through F5 Elevate, according to a statement by F5. Agility points may be redeemed and assigned to the partner’s pre-paid MasterCard.

Expanded sales incentives reward partners that sell designated F5 security products, including F5’s data center firewall and a new security bundle, which includes F5’s BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager, Application Security Manager and Access Policy Manager.

Former Cisco executive heads F5 strategic solutions

F5 Networks is showing signs that it is ramping up its security portfolio. Last October, the company hired Manuel Rivelo, a former executive at Cisco Systems Inc., as its new executive vice president of security and strategic solutions. In a recent interview conducted at RSA Conference 2012, Rivelo said he left Cisco after 19 years to join F5 in mapping out and executing on its strategy. The goal, he said, is to provide a highly available and seamless user experience from the transport layer to the application layer while addressing security.

“Infrastructure is always going to be important, but the concept of services in layers 4 through 7 and the services that are required there, not just security services but all the things around availability, acceleration and caching services become very important,” Rivelo said. “Our opportunity is not just security. It’s how we create connections and make them fast, available and secure to create a better user experience while at the same time securing the interface.”

Rivelo said security has been a bolt-on for a long time, but the market for security products is moving more toward the contextualization of services. For example, an enterprise will want to know what user is trying to connect to the corporate network, the device type they’re using, the state of the connection and the user’s location, and will then build specific security policies around that user. A user in China would be challenged with two-factor authentication to verify their identity, while a user attempting to connect in the United States would have fewer restrictions, he said.

“It’s not as if we have an answer for the entire security landscape, but we’ve architected unique use cases in the market segment that offers huge amounts of value to our customers,” Rivelo said. “We come at the market from an application-centric mentality and then we’ve built a portfolio of other services around that and that’s always been our differentiator.” News Director Robert Westervelt contributed to this report.

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