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F5 Steers Partners Toward Services

RCPU had a little sit down this week (well, a phone conversation, anyway) with Steve Hale, vice president of the North American Partner Organization for F5, a vendor of technology that, among other things, provides a platform for the delivery and optimization of applications for enterprises.

If Hale's name sounds familiar, it's because he was with Microsoft for 17 years and has just been with F5 for the last six months or so. But he's been a busy guy in his short time at the new gig. Primarily, he's trying to take an F5 partner base that's "very transactional in nature," he said, and get some of its membership to start providing services as well as ringing up sales.

The main thing that Hale and his organization want to do is get partners up to speed in terms of technical know-how, making sure that they're prepared to provide services for disciplines including application delivery, networking and infrastructure, and storage virtualization. And while Hale said that partner technical readiness "is not a real glamorous thing," it is, he said, "the foundation kingpin of everything we do. If we don't get that right, you're done from square one."

F5 currently has about 300 partners in North America, Hale said, and rather than trying to move all of them to a services-based model at once, he wants his organization to work with those most interested in getting serious about services.

"We're not going to do some big, broad-based approach," he said. "We'll take a few partners that really want to be in this space."

Along with getting partners up to speed in terms of technical expertise, F5 is focusing on pairing partners up with each other so that they can combine competencies and serve customers together.

The company is also reaching out to one of its own primary partners, Microsoft, with a series of white papers on implementations of Microsoft technologies, mainly Exchange, SharePoint and Dynamics.

"I'm saying, 'Hey, Microsoft, show me where you've got implementations going on, and we will go optimize it,'" Hale said.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 17, 2008 at 11:54 AM


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