Internet traffic management software vendor F5 Networks has scored an OEM deal with Microsoft, who will embed F5's iControl software in its new Application Center 2000 product.
Microsoft's Application Center 2000 uses load-balancing technologies to create clusters of Windows 2000 server-based computers. Clustering increases the amount of traffic that a given Web site can handle and guarantees availability when a server becomes disabled. Microsoft is using F5 Network's Internet Control Architecture to control when to add or remove nodes depending on the particular function Application Center 2000 is performing at any given time.
OEM deals form a major part of F5 Networks' market strategy, with its technology also embedded in Dell Computer's server range and offered as "complementary products" to several of Hewlett-Packard's enterprise solutions.
F5 has adopted a 60-70 per cent channel sales model in the US but, internationally, 100 per cent of its sales are pushed through channel partners and OEM agreements. In Australia for example, the products are recommended by a range of different partners including large consultants such as EDS and, to a lesser extent, CSC, as well as data centre and Web hosting partners such as UUNet, PSINet and Exodus, who offer the technology as a value-add.
Steve Kelly, general manager of F5, Australia/New Zealand, said each of the vendor's partners fill a certain market niche. Being that F5 Network's software is more often sold in a bundle with other management software, relationships with systems integrators, Web-hosting providers and IT consultants are vital to the vendor's success in the region.
"We generally work in a tool box with other vendors, it is the solution provider or the integrator that provides the assurance to the customer," he said. "My role here is to run more of a pre-sales organisation for our partners."
So far, Kelly's strategy has been moderately successful. Last year, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 15-20 per cent of F5's world market and was the fastest growing region, with a larger portion of sales than Europe.