Munish Bhasin, Director- Channels & Alliances, F5

F5 brings in unique security solutions that enable organizations to provide powerful and secure digital experiences for their customers 

F5 brings in unique security solutions that enable organizations to provide powerful and secure digital experiences for their customers

Munish Bhasin, Director- Channels & Alliances, F5

As part of our effort to raise awareness and explore current state of the threat landscape, we had spoken to the leading cybersecurity and digital transformation solutions provider F5. 

In an exclusive chat with SME Channels, Munish Bhasin, Director- Channels & Alliances, F5, discusses how F5 is leveraging the current hike in demand for security solutions worldwide; his key forecasts for the security market; key insights from the Current Security Landscape; key focus areas of F5’s Channel Business; India in F5’s overall global channel marketing strategy; Growth Blueprint for 2023, and much more. Edited Excerpts… 

As a pioneering cybersecurity brand, how have you been leveraging the recent uptick in demand for cyber security services? 

We are currently witnessing a humongous shift in how businesses are operating. On one hand technology has made operations seamless and faster, and on the other hand we are battling the enormous rise of cyber-attacks. As per NASSCOM, 79% of companies with a digital presence have experienced at least one ransomware attack, while 49% of companies reported multiple attacks. This is a clear indication ofthe rising demand for cybersecurity solutions. Organizations are now prioritizing investments in building a robust security infrastructure, to ensure security for applications delivered through different mediums like on-premise, public cloud, multi-cloud, or hybrid cloud. Businesses need unified security across all their infrastructures and a uniform policy and end-to-end observability. 

At F5, we understandthese requirements of the businesses and bring in our unique products and solutions which enables organizations to provide exceptional, secure digital experiences for their customers. Our Distributed Cloud WAAP offers end-to-end observability and uniform policy enforcement across an entire deployment without the use of integration or automation tools. F5 Distributed Cloud Services has paved the way for multiple points of presence (PoPs) worldwide and in India, and offers Web Application Firewall (WAF), Web Application and API Protection (WAAP), DNS security, DDoS services, and cloud workload protection services, enabling infrastructure as a code or platform-as-a-service to its customers. We further connect applications on different clouds, offering security and data communication to our customers.  

Is your current channel strategy properly aligned with the current market trends? 

No doubt there is an immense rise in the adoption of cloud and SaaS-based applications to accelerate digitalization.Not only businesses, but even traditional channel partners are now looking forward to graduating from pure play hardware to software based & cloud based infrastructure.Over the past few years, we have witnessed our channel shifting from the cap-ex based business model to the Op-ex based business model in order to deliver better cashflows and make the solutions affordable for their customers. At F5, we have supported our partners by bringing in various application security solutions, which are available in the SaaS model, enabling them to ride on this digitalization wave. 

What sort of partner upskilling programs do you run to empower partners on your cyber security solutions into the market? 

A strong channel ecosystem is the backbone for any B2B business to grow both organically and inorganically. At F5, we prioritize our channel partners and encourage them to provide value through sales and services. We focus on enabling our partners by providing training and engaging them in other activities that will help them to understand the latest trends and provide delight to the customers. Through our roadshows with our key channel partners in major cities like Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai, we engagewith customers to educate them about F5 Distributed Cloud Services and how our solutions can protect their applications and APIs, even when they are distributed across multiple clouds and on-premise infrastructures.  

Where does India figure in your overall global marketing strategy? 

Indian businesses have been at the forefront of digital progress and adopting new age technologies, making it a crucial market for solution providers. F5 has robust partner ecosystem in the country, which consists of distributors, resellers, and system integrators. Our specialized team oversees our channel partner network and promotes growth in the region. F5’s primary focus in India has been on cloud-based services and application security, which has led to the expansion of our operations. Our partners are the best marketers for us; through them we reach out to our existing as well as potential customers. Along with our partners we engage with our customers and target customers through webinars and events, where we showcase our solutions which help businesses to provide secured digital experience.  

Today, our products and solutions are used by businesses in various industries, including banking, financial services, insurance, and telecom. We will continue investing in the Indian market to expand our channel partner network and promote growth to address the specific needs of our customers here. 

What are your key focus areas for overall channel upliftment? 

At F5 we work closely with our channel partners. To be able to grow our customer base, it is crucial that we grow and uplift our channel partners. We consistently train and support our partners in understanding our solutions and empower them to reach out to more customers through various events, such as roadshows, webinars etc.  

Our dedication and commitment to our partners inspires them to increase their efforts to support  us and enables them to meet the diverse business requirements of our customers. 

How do you look at the emergence of Security-as-a-service? Do you also offer Security-as-a-service to your clients? 

With the acceleration of digitalization, post the pandemic, businesses across the country started to adopt SaaS solutions to enable remote working and online collaboration. We have witnessed that the SaaS market in India is on a rapid growth trajectory and is playing a significant role in the country’s digital transformation journey. As per a report by EY-CII Research, the Indian SaaS market is expected to account for almost 7 to 10% of the global SaaS market.  

Thisrise in technology adoption and the subsequent proliferation of information through use of applications has led businesses to be concerned about rising cyber threats. With various solutions now being available in SaaS-based models, businesses are increasinglyseeking security-as-a-service. As per a report by ResearchAndMarkets, the security-as-a-service market in India is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.7% from 2020 to 2025.  

Hence, businesses today are prioritizing security and seeking solutions which would enable them to provide a secured digital experience to their customers. We at F5 understand this need and have introduced a WAAP-as-service solution that enables our customers to access the SaaS version for most of our products.  

The availability of our products in SaaS version helps us in providing our products as a bundle and easily accessible to our channel partners. The product line includes a Web Application Firewall (WAF), DDoS, Bot, and API protection that offers a comprehensive solution for securing web applications and APIs. Furthermore, we have launched a new product, the Distributed Cloud Services App Infrastructure Protection (AIP), that enhances business agility and accelerates innovation while optimizing the total cost of ownership through operational efficiencies. 

If you are to educate your partners on making their customers more cyber resilient, what would be the top Three industry best practices that you would advise your partners to pass over to the customer?  

The proliferation of data and increase in the use of applications has led to a rise in the number of cyber-attacks. Cybersecurity is now the top priority in India and businesses today are focusing on building a robust cybersecurity infrastructure. As per a survey by PWC, over 82% of business executives in India foresee an increase in cybersecurity budgets in 2023. This shows that it is crucial for businesses to become cyber resilient to protect themselves from cyber-attacks, which impacts business operations enormously. Over last decade, enough work has been done on end point as well as network security by organisations. In the present world, organizations are diving deep into their Digital Strategy that is helping them to provide value to their customers as well as create competitive advantage & that has led to increase in the use of applications   

Application Security is the Key:Hence, it becomes important to prioritize the most significant cyber threats and vulnerabilities the application landscape faces. The applications are some of organization’s most valuable capital. Attackers know this better than anyone. A multi layered defense that protects most sophisticated application attacks while enabling full SSL decryption, anti-bot capabilities, and advanced detection methods is the need of the hour 

API Security: Today, we are living in an API led economy. Modern Applications are getting broken down or what could be called as decomposed and are living across a variety of infrastructures. Attackers follow the money. In a digital economy, this means targeting APIs to exploit vulnerabilities and abuse business logic, leading to data breach, account takeover, and fraud that can devastate your business. Hence, It’s imperative to identify the API landscape in your environment and framework to secure the same. To effectively prevent these attacks, you need comprehensive, consistent security that protects your entire digital footprint. An API security solution that reduces complexity in a hybrid and multi-cloud world so you can deliver secure digital experiences at scale—in the architecture you have now, and for the architecture you aspire to evolve your business into 

Shifting Security Left: “Shifting security left” is not a new concept and is one that many technologists understand at a high level. It means implementing security policies and controls at early stages of the software development process and not just when apps go into production. Shifting security left requires your application developers and DevOps teams to consider security an integral part of their apps and processes (and in particular to test it at all phases of the CI/CD pipeline), and as a result fundamentally strengthens the security of your apps when they reach production. One needs a solution that is lightweight and automates security configuration and policies so you can provision them within your CI/CD pipelines and   easily layer in security, selfservice access, and security insights to the apps your Dev and DevOps teams are deploying 

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