Best kept secret
Another major component of Unity Plus is the increased investment in F5's cloud licencing program, which is designed to enable customers to manage applications that had traditionally functioned through on-premise infrastructure.
Described by Citron as being F5’s “best kept secret”, the cloud licencing program will become a focal part of Unity Plus’ roll-out in an effort to encourage partners to develop more managed service offerings, and reduce mammoth capital investment.
“With the cloud licencing program, it’s easy for partners just to say: ‘I'll sign the paper’,” Citron said. “But if you're not building that kind of [managed service] go-to-market, then it's just a piece of paper. So we'll spend this over this time in this next year working with key partners, seeing what they need to help accelerate that. And then you'll see us really come out and launch a much stronger managed service type program. It will allow a partner to sell as they consume, and then pay us based on what they actually consume.”
Initially, F5 will only invest managed services resources in partners already with an established practice -- part of Citron’s “do better with less” motto -- but eventually this is expected to trickle down the channel.
For Richards, the offering has already added “tremendous value” to Equate. “Historically we've probably been held back because of the price points associated with capital expenditure for large projects,” he explained. “So now being able to go into a 500-person company in Queensland and not have to have a $200,000 CAPEX project, but be able to deliver a service to them that provides application services on a monthly basis, managed by the Equate team. That's a real game changer for us.”
Education is key
Going forward into 2020, one of F5’s biggest hurdles will be bringing its recent acquisitions of Ngnix and Shape, which collectively cost it $1.6 billion, increasingly into partners’ services and offerings.
As such, the vendor plans to bring partners up to speed on both technologies via increased training, with a new Nginx specialisation in the pipeline.
“With Shape we see tremendous security technology that has very little footprint here in Australia, but a huge opportunity for our top partners to get involved in that,” Citron added.
Other areas of training focus will also range from artificial intelligence, cloud security and DevOps, the latter of which Citron is keen to encourage among F5 Networks' more traditional partner base.
In a first for the vendor, this training will take place on the same day as that undertaken by the generalist F5 team.
“Partners want the education they want to make their business and their consultancies better,” Citron said. “We’re very excited about that commitment and to really see our partners as a true extension of us.”