Westcon looks to ramp up F5 business as first global distributor

Patty Gray, Westcon's VP of global vendor relationships

Patty Gray, Westcon’s VP of global vendor relationships

WAN and application delivery network vendor F5 Networks has extended its distribution relationship with Westcon Group, naming the Tarrytown, NY-based distributor its first global distribution partner.

The two are hardly strangers to each other – in fact, Westcon has been dealing with F5 on a virtually global basis to date. But the deal will extend the relationship and synchronize Westcon’s channel plans with F5’s around the globe, with a focus on growing F5’s presence in emerging markets, particularly Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

But Patty Gray, vice president of global vendor relationships at Westcon, said the new deal is a lot more than just a geographic expansion – it’s an opportunity to help F5 expand into an adjacent market with which Westcon is very familiar: the security market.

Over the course of 2012 thus far, F5 has been focusing on parlaying its success in managing data traffic on networks into a comprehensive security play. Seattle-based F5 has recently rolled out a Vault Partner Program for security-focused partners, but is still facing a major challenge in terms of awareness. As Dean Darwin, senior vice president of F5’s Worldwide Partner Organization told CRN, “We’re not known as a firewall company.”

But Westcon has long hung its hat as a value-added distributor on the fields of networking and security, making it a logical partner to help F5 build just that kind of awareness, helping both existing F5 partners build out their security practices, and introducing its security-focused partners to the F5 offerings.

“With their security announcement, they’re right in the heart of the data centre, and they’re a perfect fit for us, with our strengths in networking, security and all the verticals we support,” Gray said.

In Canada and the U.S., solution providers can expect a full set of security training and enablement around both F5’s security offerings and its full linecard of products and services. While Westcon will no doubt draw in some new solution providers through the relationship, Gray said the focus is on growth with its existing base of solution provider customers.

Next steps for the relationship between the two include each side assigning a global manager for the relationship. From there, the two will look to co-ordinate plans, policies and training and enablement efforts, and build what Gray describes as a common framework from which best practices can be exported from local markets to geographies around the world.

In all, the companies will now work together in 61 countries around the world, Gray said.

“We’re really honoured to be the first global partner for them,” she said. “We think our relationship has become more and more strategic, and we’re excited and committed to expanding. It’s a big deal for us.

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