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Channel Chief: Juan Villalobos, F5 LATAM Director Channel Sales

Channel Chief: Juan Villalobos, F5 LATAM Director Channel Sales

BrazilChannel ChiefsChilePartners ProgrammeTop Stories

Juan Villalobos, F5 LATAM Director Channel Sales, tells us about the business opportunities available in the company’s channel ecosystem in 2024.

What does your position entail?

F5, categorized as a tier two company, conducts all its sales transactions through partners. The channel team concentrates on enabling and activating these partners in LATAM, shaping the strategy and establishing go-to-market plans with them. This collaboration is built on trust and is aimed at all market segments, with a particular emphasis on the enterprise segment.

Who reports directly to you in the region?

A team of five, stationed in key cities, manages regions including Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and the USA. The Program Leader and the Business Development team, consisting of three members based in Guadalajara, our Customer Support Center, collaborate closely with the marketing team. They serve as the initial point of contact with customers following a lead generation action.

How many partners do you have in LATAM? In which countries are these?

In LATAM, we have a network of just over 400 partners spread across three regions: Brazil, Mexico and the Multi-Country Area (MCA), which is further divided into three sub-regions – North, South and the English-speaking Caribbean. In Brazil, our F5 representatives are located in Sao Paulo and Brasilia.

Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?

Enable, activate and reward. Understanding the needs of our partners is key to building trust and fostering collaboration. We work closely with F5 sales and engineering teams to enable our partners. Additionally, we activate partners through marketing and business plans, aligning rebates with our sales strategy.

What is your channel management philosophy?

No matter the size or designation of a partner, a partnership is always reciprocal. It’s essential for us to comprehend how we can contribute to a partner’s growth. After all, their success is synonymous with our success.

How do you handle leads for F5 software, hardware and services?

Prospects are assigned to the Business Development team, which operates under my supervision. This team collaborates closely with the marketing department, engaging with prospects that emerge from various demand generation activities and tactics across LATAM. As a prospect transitions into a lead, they are assigned to an F5 Account Manager who is responsible for validating and qualifying the lead before forwarding the opportunity to a partner.

Do F5 partners work with the complete portfolio or in a segmented way?

Partners engage with our entire portfolio, yet the majority have specific areas of expertise and strength. For instance, some specialize by verticals such as government, finance and service providers, while others focus on business units like security, microservices and cloud.

Do you work differently with channel partners in Latin America compared to other regions?

We operate under the global program UNITY+, with the only variation in LATAM being that the requirements are aligned with regional needs. Strategically, while global directives set the go-to-market priorities for partners, we implement our own tactics and activities at the local level. An example of this is the F5 annual event, F5 Revolution, which is the flagship event in LATAM for customers and partners. It’s scheduled to take place in Cancun from June 11 to 14, 2024.

How do your partners deliver F5 solutions to end-users?

The majority of our partners have their own service teams dedicated to delivering F5 solutions. These teams undergo the F5 certification process to validate their expertise. In LATAM, we launched the partner service program five years ago, focusing on the delivery of high-end solutions. This program is a critical ecosystem where partners work collaboratively with each other and with F5.

F5 partners are focused on what industries and what customer technology/business challenges?

Our partners, primarily operating in the enterprise segment, concentrate on key verticals such as finance, government and service providers. They assist our customers in addressing the challenge of securing, delivering and optimizing every application and API, regardless of location.

How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market? 

To maintain a competitive edge, it’s essential to stay closely aligned with partners through a partner program that supports their growth. This involves having clear go-to-market priorities and being able to effectively articulate the ‘why’ – the direction and value of doing business with F5.

How does F5’s range of offerings provide a competitive advantage in its industry?

Last year, we introduced our SaaS offering, F5 Distributed Cloud Services (XC). These services, based on a SaaS model, encompass security, networking and application management. They empower customers to deploy, secure and manage their applications in a cloud-native environment, whether in a data center, across multiple clouds, or at the network or enterprise edge.

What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?

Over a decade ago, the common practice was for customers to host applications in data centers. Then, the concept of ‘moving to the cloud’ emerged, with predictions that applications would swiftly migrate to the cloud within a few years. However, these predictions were largely inaccurate. Industry experts, analysts, and even manufacturers, misjudged the situation. The actual evolution of application hosting and cloud migration turned out to be quite different from those early forecasts.

The initial belief that all traditional applications, including those critical to business operations, would rapidly move to the cloud proved to be oversimplified. It became clear that different applications required different environments: public cloud, private cloud, colocation, traditional data centers or the edge. This diversity stems from the fact that no single cloud or environment is universally suitable for all applications. Businesses need the flexibility to choose the most appropriate environment for each application. Partners who understand this varied landscape and adapt to their customers’ diverse needs are poised for success in the near future.

Which regions do you see offering the most opportunities for your company in 2024 and for what reasons?

Each region, including Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Colombia, has its unique strengths, characterized by a robust channel ecosystem and growth potential for F5. As an industry-leading manufacturer, F5 is recognized for its solutions that optimize any app, any API, anywhere. This reputation is bolstered by the company’s flexibility in consumption models and a strong commitment to application security and delivery.

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