F5 Networks has announced a global strategy to have its channel partners accredited through a series of certification programs.
Aiming to have existing partners accredited by March 2002, the network traffic management vendor is asking engineers to take on five days of course training to become certified as either a product consultant, configuration specialist or network engineer. The accreditation will be verified by a third party.
The vendor will also implement a certification scheme for distributors: Premier partners will be distributors that provide logistics support, while Gold partners will be distributors that provide value-added services.
"As a young company, most of our channel has been structured out of immediate needs and expedience," said Tom Pettigrew, vice president for channel and OEM sales for F5 Networks. "Now that we are a solid number two behind Cisco for traffic management products, we want a higher level of technical knowledge among our partners. Partners need some way of proving their value and differentiating themselves."
Rob Howard, regional sales manager for F5 Networks in Australia and New Zealand, said that by the end of June 2002, he hopes to have trained between 60 and 100 certified engineers in the Australian channel. But many of F5's more competent channel partners, particularly OEM partners, will be able to be tested without first taking the five-day course if they feel confident enough to pass.
F5 is also interested in signing an authorised training partner for the region. Pettigrew said it should come from within Australia's existing channel, as the partner will need to already have skill sets around the F5 products. The decision has not been made as yet as there may be a conflict if the authorised training partner also sells F5 products.
Eventually F5 will move to providing Web-based and text-book based tutorials to expand its certification program, Pettigrew said.