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F5 networks announced the creation of a new global channel leadership role and said that it would tap its former North American channel chief to fill the position.

In an interview with Channel Insider, Dean Darwin said that his promotion to vice president of worldwide channel sales was a direct result of recent company success springing from his brainchild, F5 Lightning, a channel partner program that he says has given the North American partner community a much-needed jolt during tight times.

“When a lot of people are cutting margins for partners and trying to skinny down programs, we’re doing the opposite,” Darwin says. “The Lightning program is all about putting more profitability into the partner community for those that add value and differentiating between fulfillment and value.”

Launched in May, Lightning expanded education, services and marketing to channel partners, rewarded channel sales into VM environments, offered special incentives for service renewals and suspended partner audits in 2009. Based on the quarterly company earnings report and Darwin’s promotion, it is clear that Lightning has made an impact on the company . Even as other major technology players are missing analysts’ earnings expectations and even showing revenue declines, F5 saw a healthy 19 percent jump in profit during second quarter and announced earnings guidance for third quarter that show it should exceed Wall Street’s expectations by two to four cents per share.

In order to build off that momentum, the company wants Darwin to put Lightning in a bottle and ship it around the globe. “This promotion is about taking (Lightning) worldwide and dealing with global partners,” Darwin says, explaining that much of F5’s drive to create a global program is to satisfy channel partner requests. In recent months F5 has generated a lot of interest from large global VARs such as Dimension Data asking for a cohesive channel program that scales to their needs. The request is unique, Darwin says, "because [while] we do have partnerships around the world that are very strong, but this is the first time where we’re not coming to them saying ‘Will you please sell our stuff?’ This is them coming to us saying, ‘We would like to pursue a global relationship and a global program.’”

He believes the strengthened interest comes from VARs who are leveraging F5’s products as a ‘differentiating technology’ to help sell their total value-added package into client organizations that are called on to do more with less these days.

“When you think about this, if you can control the application and the performance of applications, storage, security networking and things like that all come for the ride,” Dean says, explaining that for some customers F5 is at the center of application and productivity enhancements to infrastructure. “We’re kind of at the heart of that deployment to make sure that applications that are deployed can be deployed quickly and securely,  and that they’re performance-based so they don’t have to rebuild the network again, which is even more cost, and that they scale.”

From a channel perspective, he believes that global partners are seeing this value proposition as a way to help them sell their services.

“We’re becoming more important to the worldwide channel because of that enablement aspect,” he says. “It helps them sell the rest of their portfolio.”

Even though Darwin has moved on to a larger arena, he believes North American partners will still profit from the fruits of his new labors because new markets will be open to them.

While details of how exactly he plans on structuring the new F5 global program are only a week into the making and are sketchy at best, Darwin tells partners to keep their eyes peeled as fall approaches.”The ink is just drying on this promotion, but within the next quarter you’re going to hear quite a few things from F5," he said.