APPLICATION traffic management software might be a niche market but according to F5 Networks it is a huge growth area — and the company is looking for more local systems integrators to join its channel.
F5 Networks’ product range includes Firepass VPN SSL, TrafficShield application firewall, iControl and BIG-IP for application traffic management.
Les Howarth, Australasian managing director, says his company’s business has gone through the roof in New Zealand — with 50% growth globally and 100% growth here.
To keep the momentum going Howarth is currently interviewing for a country manager and is looking to appoint a second distributor alongside Wellington-based Observatory Crest.
“The success of my company is dependent on the people I call F5 Heroes; it doesn’t matter which distributor they work for as long as they’re passionate about the product. Observatory Crest has done a great job for us and I need more people like that,” he says.
But, says Howarth, it’s depth not breadth that he’s looking for in potential partners.
“This isn’t a commoditised market, so the margins are still around 40%, and not everyone is selling it because it’s a real value-add.”
Existing partners range from Datacom and Optimation at the big end of town, down to three-man businesses installing servers and applications. Howarth says F5’s Firepass and TrafficShield products are selling extremely well in New Zealand because they combine security with flexibility.
“Every CIO is looking to squeeze more out of what they’ve got and for very little cash — around $35,000 — our products make things run better. It’s moving to the stage where the box becomes irrelevant because it just doesn’t go wrong and the software acts like a switch.” Howarth believes the next big driver for growth will be when the blade market finally takes off, but says it’s up to the large manufacturers, including HP and IBM, to instigate the change.
“At the moment manufacturers offer it rather than push it so the customer demand isn’t there and I’m sitting here wondering how the hell we get people to buy blades.”