F5 Networks: VDI is our focus area at the datacenter | Christian Hentschel | Senior VP — Sales, Asia Pacific & Japan, F5 Networks | Interviews | ChannelWorld.in

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F5 Networks: VDI is our focus area at the datacenter

Interviewed on May 23, 2012 by Shantheri Mallaya
Christian Hentschel
Christian Hentschel , Senior VP — Sales, Asia Pacific & Japan, F5 Networks VDI is a great opportunity for us. It is, at some level, an application that becomes a browser. We need to have underlying intelligence in the data center; that is where F5 comes in.

Interview Questions

Full Interview with Christian Hentschel

CW : The F5 journey from ADN to a security infrastructure player has been quite interesting. Also, with focus on data center-oriented tie-ups, has F5 really sunk its teeth into virtualization and cloud?

Hentschel: Indeed, the journey and the transition have been quite challenging and interesting. Going forward, few key trends present a huge opportunity for us. Mobility and IP traffic are driving enterprise application and network layers across voice, data and video. F5 is striving to enhance and excel its competencies in application delivery to meet these trends, secure networks and make them flexible and reliable. We are helping customers and partners to leverage and monetize capabilities at the data center, on the cloud. We deliver security solutions that help customers to protect applications. Our DDoS (distributed denial of service) solutions are a manifestation of this mandate. We have tons of opportunities to look into, and we are working towards optimizing these.

CW : Industry watchers believe that Cisco and Citrix have a strong pact in VDI, while F5 may not have too many VDI capabilities. This makes data center-VDI a tough game for F5, doesn’t it?

Hentschel: VDI is a great opportunity for us. It is, at some level, an application that becomes a browser. We need to have underlying intelligence in the data center; that is where F5 comes into the picture. F5 has a standing strong partnership with VMware for data center customers, with VMware standardizing their solutions on ours. We have a number of customers across APAC, who look at us to layer upon their existing Citrix VDI solutions. Whether it is Citrix or VMware, we are open to partnerships, because VDI is a focus area at the data center. It will not only drive the data center business but will also drive the security focus for us.

CW : F5 Networks has gone ahead and crossed its aspiration mark of being a billion-dollar organization worldwide. How significant has the APAC and Japan business been?

Hentschel: The last few quarters have been very good to the company as a whole and have been viewed very positively by analysts. F5 closed last quarter with US$339 million, which was a 22.4 percent YoY growth and a 5.3 percent growth quarter-on-quarter. APAC and Japan have the highest growth rates, with Japan at 45 percent and APAC at 24 percent, YoY growth, while the Americas clocked 21 percent and EMEA at 19 percent YoY. In the last couple of quarters, the business from APAC and Japancontributes to around 21 percent of the overall revenues of F5 worldwide, which is quite significant.

CW : F5’s recent acquisition of Traffix Systems happened despite the fact the company has its own telecom products. Why was this done, and will this acquisition really help to push the telecom agenda further?

Hentschel: Absolutely, the recent acquisition will push the telecom as far as it needs to. Telecom is a chief contributor to F5 top-lines. Previously, in 2G and 3G deployments, the main attribute was the radius, while 4G goes on to the diameter. Traffix has a diameter solution and we were looking at a specialist player in the 4G space whose portfolio would enhance and integrate our existing 4G solutions and our service provider focus. We have more than 35 service providers and that is a huge opportunity to build on to the next level.

CW : Partners in India feel that the level of channel engagement between them and F5 is quite poor. Some have tried to engage with you in the recent years, acquire skill sets, but nothing went beyond a certain level. However, they are unanimous in saying your products are world class. Why this disconnect?

Hentschel: I wouldn’t say that there is disconnect as such nor can I comment on specific partner observations. We have started to rebuild our India engagements in the last 18 months or so. We have a team in place. It is at a challenging phase and we quite look forward to the changes. All partners across the world, including partners in India, have access to information depending on their certifications and specializations. Dev Central, a portal with access to customers and partners, is a community platform for application developers with about 1 Lakh unique users. Some of the solutions that we have deployed in India (in the service provider and the financial services) are quite sophisticated. Hence, the interaction is self-explanatory. From a channel perspective, 95 percent of our business comes from the channel. From a go-to-market standpoint, we have done everything within our control to ensure partners get the maximum benefit of all the resources we have. We are keen to continue to invest in India.

CW : Analysts feel that much of F5’s success can be attributed chiefly to its newer products, including higher-than-expected demand for Viprion 2400, F5’s midrange chassis. How true is this from an APAC and India viewpoint, and won’t the emphasis stagnate your growth?

Hentschel: Yes, we are still not there from a high-end standpoint. We have observed that in the emerging markets, much of the business and interest that is evinced ranges in the low- and mid-range products. But, in the last year or so, in APAC, much of the growth that we are seeing is due to the change in customer perspective in understanding the value of high-end solutions. There has definitely been a quarter-on-quarter increase in the implementation of high-end platforms. From an India perspective, most of the customers are already using high-end platforms; these are larger deals. Given these changes, we are surely going to witness accelerated growth.

CW : So, is it effectively only the Global System Integrators (GSIs) who currently have the bandwidth to execute your high-end projects in India?

Hentschel: I wouldn’t say that. At the end of the day, business is between people, and we will not restrict engagements on the basis of global or local; it is about competencies. We are engaging with players other than GSIs across all our business geographies and I see no reason for India to be an exception.

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