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, said that by the end of June 2002 he hopes to have trained between 60 and 100 engineers. 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.
THE NEW ACCREDITATION PROGRAM
r F5 certified product consultant (pre-sales engineer): F5 will give its partners four free seats a year to be trained for this role. A partner only requires four staff to be certified in this category, thus a partner need not make any investment but time.
r F5 certified configuration specialist: F5 will provide two free seats a year, while the channel partner will have to make an investment to train an additional two staff to meet the vendor's criteria.
r F5 certified network engineer: F5 provides no free seats, but again four staff need to be accredited. This level of accreditation gives the partner the ability to sell a greater variety of value-added services.
F5 STICKS WITH TECH PAC
Five months into its distribution relationship with Tech Pacific, F5 regional sales manager Rob Howard said the vendor will continue with the distributor, despite recent events. F5 struck up the agreement after receiving the support of Tech Pacific's networking category manager, David Higgins, who was one of the senior managers shown the door in a recent round of redundancies.
Howard said the agreement with Tech Pacific had broadened the vendor's reseller base. "We are still committed to the guys, they still service our top resellers," he said. "We're still with them for the same reasons we started out with them."