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Securing the IT channel

Securing the IT channel 

For the past decade, Avnet Technology Solutions and F5 Networks have partnered to assist with businesses’ rapidly evolving IT needs. Together, they have helped their customers to deliver new applications by properly securing all of their cloud–based, data centre and software-defined network deployments.

IT in Canada spoke to Cheryl Neal, vice president of supplier business management for Avnet Technology Solutions about the long-standing partnership, how it benefits channel clients, and the future goals for it.

IT in Canada: Why did Avnet choose to partner with F5 Networks?
The F5 partnership came to Avnet by way of acquisition of Access Distribution, which we did back in 2006. The Access value proposition had included a lot of partnerships that were extremely complementary to Avnet. It really helped support partners selling into the data centre.

F5 really aligned well with Avnet’s focus on the data centre, the network and the cloud, and with F5, our partners are able to address the growth and the voice, the data and the video traffic to better support mobile workers and applications. This is a very strategic partnership for Avnet Technology Solutions’ business, and through the years, (F5) has become one of our top 10 suppliers both in North America and globally.

ITIC: Why is now the time for enterprises to scale their data centre, cloud and SDN deployments?
I believe that data centres have been continuing to scale (deployments) for years through virtualization and other elements. However, there is now a need for enterprises to be even more agile and too respond to their end user requirements. There are higher expectations on the part of geographically dispersed end users, tighter service-level agreements, lower budgets, all driving the need for improvement and efficiency for the move to the cloud.

IT would probably say that they’re losing control of the app selection and hardware management, but they’re still being held accountable for security and compliance. If they don’t create an infrastructure to support the end user with mobile computing and a hybrid environment, they will also lose control of that security.

Virtualization is where to gain that structural efficiency when it’s in the server storage or networks. Avnet is working with our supplier and reseller partners to prepare them to help manage the hybrid data centres and eventually move into the SDN. I don’t think the end users are quite to the point of adopting the SDN yet, but everything that we’re doing now to support the hybrid data centres sets them up to take advantage of that market.

ITIC: How can Avnet’s products and services assist with the scaling process?
Enterprises are looking for ways to centralize and consolidate the management of their IT resources, and it creates utilization range and ultimately lowers their costs. Speaking to the F5 capabilities, they are working to manage network bandwidth, deliver good performance with secure, seamless end user access and scale cloud services on short notice.

Many companies are moving towards a converged infrastructure to reduce the cost and the complexity of the systems that support these enterprise applications. This really bodes well for Avnet, as Avnet designs and delivers convergence systems for our partners and their end customers.

We are working very closely with F5 right now to leverage our expertise in this area and include those F5 solutions in many of the converged solutions we deliver today to help optimize the traffic of those applications and provide control, availability and performance. We have global solutions centres in locations around the world to provide these services, and that’s a key differentiator for Avnet.

ITIC: According to an IDC report, market revenue for network security is expected to rise 7.4 per cent over the next few years. How is Avnet helping its F5 partners to take advantage of this?
CN: Security is a prime focus for Avnet, and is definitely a market driver. There are multiple things that we are doing, but three that come to mind are services, technical resources and verticals. If you think about services, Avnet has services, and many of our partners have services. But when you think about vulnerability and penetration testing, those really dovetail nicely into F5’s security offerings.

Avnet continues to invest in our technical resources in an effort to help enable our F5 partners to better understand and market F5 solutions and incorporate that into their end user offerings. Our technical researchers are helping with certifications and test crafts, and F5’s solutions are extremely expansive. To understand this, our team is there to help our partners fully utilize those (solutions).

Pulling it all together is where Avnet has a lot of expertise with high-growth verticals. We have spent a lot of time, research and funding to make sure that we can help empower our partners to take advantage of the high-growth verticals of energy, finance, government, healthcare and retail. All of these verticals have end user requirements that require a lot of security.

Healthcare is a great example. Avnet has multiple programs to support our partners, not only understanding the F5 technology, but how the different solutions that we support take care of the healthcare end user and really understanding the healthcare market. Being able to speak the end user’s (language) of healthcare is where Avnet can really support our partners.

ITIC: What are Avnet’s future plans for scaling and network security?
We have rebranded ourselves globally as a security and networking solutions group, leading with security as one of our prime (business) drivers. We’re going to continue to provide tools such as our Avnet Cloud Toolset, combine solutions, including F5 and some of the other (products) that we offer to help our partners move into the cloud seamlessly and help their end users do the same.

We’re going to continue with the multi-platform solutions, as our partners are looking for our expertise there, and we can provide a greater knowledge of how everything fits together. This really lends well to leveraging the alliance partnership that F5 has with other companies. We can help to combine joint solutions and go-to-market campaigns to fulfill that end user requirement on behalf of our partners.

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