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F5 Networks Inc (NASDAQ:FFIV)
Q3 2020 Earnings Call
Jul 27, 2020, 4:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good afternoon and welcome to the F5 Networks' Third Quarter Fiscal 2020 Financial Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I'll now turn the call over to Ms. Suzanne DuLong. Ma'am, you may begin.

Suzanne DuLong -- Vice President of Investor Relations

Hello, and welcome. I'm Suzanne DuLong, F5's Vice President of Investor Relations. Francois Locoh-Donou, F5's President and CEO and Frank Pelzer, F5's Executive Vice President and CFO will be making prepared remarks on today's call. Other members of the F5 executive team are also on hand to answer questions during the Q&A session.

A copy of today's press release is available on our website at f5.com, where an archived version of today's call will be available through October 25, 2020. Today's live discussion is supported by visuals, which are viewable on the webcast and will be posted to our IR site at the conclusion of today's discussion. The replay of today's call will be available through midnight Pacific Time, July 28, by dialing (800) 585-8367 or (416) 621-4642. Use meeting ID 8166352. For additional information, or follow-up questions, please reach out to me directly at s.dulong@f5.com.

Our discussion today will contain forward-looking statements, which include words such as believe, anticipate, expect and target. These forward-looking statements involve uncertainties and risks that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements. Factors that may affect our results are summarized in the press release announcing our financial results and described in detail in our SEC filings. Please note that F5 has no duty to update any information presented in this call.

With that, I'll turn the call over to Francois.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Suzanne, and good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us today. I will talk briefly to our business drivers before handing over to Frank to review the quarter's results in detail.

Despite macro uncertainty, we delivered strong third quarter results. As a company, we continue to take a human-first approach. This means working to support our customers and each other as we cope with the ongoing pandemic and the resulting economic upheaval. It also means supporting each other through the social unrest and protests over the inequitable treatment of black members of our communities. At F5, our commitment to the fight against racism is a foundational part of our culture. We consider diversity and inclusion part of being an F5er. As a company, our exec team, in collaboration with our F5 Appreciates Blackness or FAB Employee Inclusion Group and our diversity and inclusion team are taking several steps to fight bias. This includes continuing our mandatory unconscious bias training for all employees. But no amount of policies and programs will achieve change if we do not make it personal. Everyday actions are what will truly make F5 a more diverse and inclusive company.

I have pledged to all our employees, as has every member of the F5 exec team, that we will be accountable in our words and in our auctions. As part of our F5 Global Good efforts, we have previously committed to support STEM education grants, supporting women of color and underrepresented youth. In Q3, our FAB Employee Inclusion Group went a step further, creating a fund and identifying partners to provide a resource for employees eager to support non-profits working to advance basic human rights for people of color in the U.S. Over $124,000 was raised in just one month by F5er's including the company match. We firmly believe that our commitment to our human-first approach makes what we do as a business possible.

This quarter, despite a multitude of challenges globally, our team outperformed our non-GAAP revenue and earnings guidance. Continued strong customer demand for software subscriptions and security use cases drove 4% total revenue growth and fueled our 43% software growth. Our Systems business was down 12% while our Services business grew 5%. In the current environment, our incumbency is a significant advantage. We are benefiting as customers accelerate their digital transformation and turn to operationalize solutions to meet both immediate and long term business needs.

After Frank's review of the quarter's financial results and our Q4 outlook, I will talk to our business trends and customer highlights from the quarter. I will also take time today to introduce our vision for the future of applications. Frank?

Frank Pelzer -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Francois, and good afternoon everyone. As Francois noted, we delivered a very strong Q3. Like last quarter, we are reporting non-GAAP revenue. Non-GAAP revenue excludes the impact of the purchase accounting writedown on Shape's assumed deferred revenue. For transparency, we are committed to providing both GAAP and non-GAAP revenue during the period when purchase accounting will have an impact on Shape-related revenue.

On a GAAP basis, Q3 revenue was $583 million. Third quarter non-GAAP revenue of $586 million was up approximately 4% year-over-year and above the high end of our $555 million to $585 million guidance range. Please note, as I review our revenue mix, I will be referring to non-GAAP revenue measures. Q3 product revenue of $256 million was up 3% year-over-year and accounted for approximately 44% of total revenue.

Software revenue was $97 million, growing 43% against a particularly tough comparison of 91% growth in the prior year period. Software continues to grow as a percentage of product revenue, representing approximately 38% of product revenue in Q3, up from approximately 27% in the year ago quarter. We also continue our momentum toward a recurring revenue base with subscriptions of 73% of software revenue in the quarter.

Services revenue of $330 million grew 5% year-over-year and represented approximately 56% of revenue. Revenue from recurring sources, which includes term subscriptions as a service and utility-based revenue, as well as the maintenance portion of our services revenue totaled 66% of revenue in the quarter. Systems revenue of $159 million was down 12% year-over-year.

On a regional basis, in Q3, we saw strength in Americas and EMEA with Americas delivering 11% revenue growth year-over-year and representing 57% of total revenue. EMEA delivered 6% growth, representing 24% of revenue. Against a challenging comparison in the year ago quarter, APAC was down 15% year-over-year and accounted for 19% of revenue.

Looking at our bookings by vertical. Enterprise customers represented 67% of product bookings and service providers accounted for 15%. Government customers represented 18% of product bookings, including 5% from U.S. Federal.

Turning to our Q3 operating results. GAAP gross margin in Q3 was 81.8%. Non-GAAP gross margin was 84.4%. GAAP operating expenses were $390 million. Non-GAAP operating expenses were $327 million. Our GAAP operating margin in Q3 was 15% and our non-GAAP operating margin was 28.6%. Our GAAP effective tax rate for the quarter was 20.4%. Our non-GAAP effective tax rate was 20.2%. GAAP net income for the quarter was $70 million or $1.14 per share. Non-GAAP net income was $134 million or $2.18 per share. This was above the top end of our guidance range due to our strong revenue performance, as well as disciplined operating expense management.

Turning to the balance sheet. We generated $159 million in cash flow from operations. Cash and investments totaled approximately $1.2 billion at quarter end. While we have an estimated $1.3 billion remaining on our share repurchase authorization, we did not repurchase shares during the quarter, opting instead to conserve cash given the uncertain macro environment. DSO was 47 days and capital expenditures for the quarter were $12 million. Deferred revenue increased 9% year-over-year to $1.3 billion, driven by an increase in maintenance contracts, as well as the acquired Shape deferred revenue. We ended the quarter with approximately 6,020 employees, up approximately 195 from Q2.

Now, let me share our guidance for fiscal Q4 of 2020. Unless otherwise stated, please note that my guidance comments reference non-GAAP metrics. Our Q4 outlook factors in the expected impact of continued global uncertainty related to COVID-19 and broader economic trends as we understand them to date. Near term, we expect customers will prioritize investments that enable them to serve the immediate needs of their customers and employees. We expect to benefit from being a trusted and operationalized partner of the largest enterprises around the world. We also expect customers will scrutinize investment priorities, which could lead to longer purchasing cycles or deferred projects.

With this in mind, we are targeting Q4 FY '20 non-GAAP revenue in the range of $595 million to $615 million. We expect gross margins between 84% and 85%. We estimate operating expenses of $326 million to $338 million. We anticipate our full year FY '20 effective tax rate will be in the range of 19.5% to 20.5% [Phonetic]. This is lower than we previously estimated due to a non-recurring impact to foreign tax credits resulting from an election we made in filing our FY '19 U.S. income tax return, which will impact our Q4 effective tax rate. Our Q4 earnings target is $2.30 to $2.42 per share. We expect Q4 share-based compensation expense of approximately $52 million to $53 million.

Let me speak briefly on our capital allocation philosophy. With the current environment and interest rates declining, we expect to continue to prioritize building our cash position over near term share repurchases and over paying down our Term Loan A associated with the Shape acquisition. Hwever, consistent with what we have said previously, we also retain the option of repurchasing shares opportunistically in any open trading window.

With that, I will turn the call back over to Francois. Francois?

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Frank. I will begin by discussing some of our business dynamics and drivers. As an organization, we remain nearly a 100% work-from-home and we expect the majority of F5er's will work remotely for the rest of the calendar year 2020. We are taking a phased and cautious approach to returning to our offices globally. In certain geographies, we are allowing a very small percentage of employees to return to the office on a strictly voluntary basis. We also recently lifted travel restrictions in some geographies but we ask employees to consider carefully whether travel is essential and to quarantine for two weeks following their trip. We will revisit our approach regionally as circumstances and local advisory dictate.

Despite the continued work-from-home conditions, F5er's remain very engaged and productive. My thanks to the entire F5 team for their persistence, ingenuity and resiliency in these unprecedented times. Together, we delivered a very strong third quarter despite it also being the first quarter closed without a single face-to-face customer interaction.

While we are very pleased with our third quarter performance, two quarters in, we also have more perspective on COVID-19's impact on our business. Overall, demand in our business is proving more resilient in the second half than our initial post-COVID expectations. Relative to our pre-COVID expectations for the year, we are seeing evidence of three expected COVID-related headwinds. First, similar to last quarter, while we are seeing strength from overall enterprise, we continue to see caution from the most severely impacted verticals. These include transportation, entertainment and leisure and retail, which combined, represent less than 10% of our bookings. Second, our ASEAN and India sales regions were acutely impacted by COVID-19-related order delays in the last several weeks of the quarter. Third, while our sales team has kept up strong virtual engagement levels with customers, the prolonged lack of face-to-face engagement is causing some delays with new strategic projects. These headwinds were in large part, offset by the advantages of our strong incumbency and our alignment with customers' investment priorities resulting in the overall resiliency we have seen in our business.

We noted last quarter, that customer's plan to accelerate their digital transformations because of COVID-19. Our Q3 results are evidence that they are executing against that intent. Large enterprise and service provider customers are increasing their digital engagement and boosting capacity and security on customer-facing applications and on platforms that enable employee collaboration. While some customers are moving ahead with large scale transformation projects, we see an increasing number prioritizing speed and choosing to deploy solutions they have already operationalized. F5's incumbency drove solutions portfolio and full hardware to software functionality are clearly an advantage in this environment.

With F5, customers can deploy operationalized solutions with confidence knowing their application services can evolve in step with our application and business needs. We also continue to see broad customer demand for subscription-based consumption models across all geographies. In fact, in Q3, the team closed the largest number of subscription deals ever in a quarter. In addition, a growing number of customers are leveraging our broad application service portfolio and our ability to serve both traditional and modern applications. They are choosing F5 to cover a suite of application services using a combination of traditional F5, NGINX, and Shape solutions.

As an example, this quarter, we won a hybrid cloud datacenter redesign with the Department of Health. Our solution delivers speed, visibility, reliability, flexibility and agility while avoiding the management complexity that comes with multiple vendors. We delivered a detailed migration plan combining highly scalable BIG-IP Access Policy Manager, an advanced Web Application Firewall, global and local traffic managers along with NGINX Controller and NGINX Plus. We also secured a win to deliver a comprehensive protection strategy for a major service provider. Our solution includes F5 WAF, NGINX, Shape, and Silverline Managed Services.

For the use case perspective, application security continues to emerge as a significant customer need for both traditional and modern applications. This is driving four kinds of opportunities for us. First, it is driving core F5 security deployments in both systems and software, including DDoS, SSL orchestration and Web Application Firewall. In one example, during the quarter, a major video conferencing and collaboration tool provider chose F5 to provide global DDoS protection.

Second, the need for application security is creating demand for the combination of F5 security on top of NGINX. The power of this combination was part of the rationale for acquiring NGINX last year and we are very pleased with our early traction. Last quarter, we mentioned an NGINX API Gateway win that we combined with F5 WAF. This quarter, we secured a win with a multinational financial services corporation using NGINX API Gateway and F5 App Protect. We are enabling them to scale to 10,000 transactions per second while securing each individual API to the third-party fintech partners. Use cases like this one, enabling best-in-class security on modern application architectures are gaining momentum and we believe will accelerate the appeal of NGINX to large enterprises.

The third kind of opportunity driven by application security needs relates to strong customer interest in our Shape portfolio. Customers are looking to Shape's AI and machine learning enabled defense capabilities to protect against a growing number of threats, both bots and human. For instance, this quarter, we secured a Shape Defense win with a media conglomerate. We are protecting both the web and mobile deployments of their new over-the-top service against credential stuffing, and other threats.

Finally, we are seeing growing demand for application security of the managed service. In fact, we have layered Shape on to our Silverline Managed Services platform. The combination means we can provide customers the ability to protect, not just the application, but also how the application works. The Shape/ Silverline combination is ideal for customers who either do not want to own or don't have the expertise to manage the technology. We believe application security is a meaningful opportunity for F5 and expect demand to fuel growth for several years. But we are not stopping there.

I am going to spend the remainder of our prepared remarks, outlining for you where we are taking F5, how we intend to leverage and combine the respective strength and trajectories of traditional F5, NGINX and Shape to create adaptive applications and open new addressable market opportunity. We see a future where an application, like a living organism, will naturally adapt based on the environment. It will grow, shrink, defend and heal itself as needed. The combination of application services, telemetry and automation will enable it to become an adaptive application. Ultimately adaptive applications will deliver increased revenue, reduce cost and better protection for application owners. We have been sharing this vision with our customers over the last several quarters and the feedback has been resoundingly positive. Our vision strongly aligns with where enterprises see the greatest opportunities for their applications and their businesses. Through our organic and inorganic investments, we are well on our way to delivering this vision for customers. We are creating an application services platform that will help customers accelerate their digital transformations and fundamentally change the way applications are delivered and secured.

Let us step back a bit. To deliver engaging user experiences, many things need to happen between the applications' business logic and the user. The application needs to scale as usage increases. It needs to be protected from attacks and it's availability must be maintained to meet end user expectations. These are elements that are typically not in the functional requirements of the application and typically not addressed when the application was built. DevOps and site-reliability engineering can help address these non-functional requirements. However, non-functional requirements are becoming more complex as the number of micro services-based applications increase. Furthermore business applications are increasingly distributed over a multi-cloud environment. They often have multiple generations of application architecture components in them, namely 3-tier, web, mobile, micro services and even server-less. This creates the need for application services such as Ingress Controller, API Gateway, Load Balancer, Web Application Firewall, etc, which needs to be injected in a standard way between the application business logic and the end user.

Application services help applications operate securely at scale. And distributed application services enables fast and secure digital customer experiences. While, ideally, we could seamlessly insert and integrate application services in the application path, today, it is not that simple. A typical enterprise IT needs to stitch together multiple application services from multiple vendors to deliver an application to customers. Our customer research showed that 59% of organizations use 10 or more application services. For most organizations, each of these application services is managed separately with its own management tools. This results in silo teams and high operational complexity. This fragmentation also creates inconsistent application security. While teams work to protect the different aspects of application behaviors, the user experience of the business service often is left underprotected.

Finally, this piecemeal approach limits visibility across the application delivery chain, making it impossible for enterprises to get a holistic view of the business impact. We are creating a unified platform to solve these challenges for our customers. We are delivering real value to customers, simplifying operational complexity, providing business insights, and protecting the user experience end-to-end. We are also uniquely positioned to deliver a new level of application insights and automation. F5's BIG-IP instances, along with NGINX software, support more than 400 million application workloads across the globe. We support application delivery with purpose-built hardware and virtual machines in container software and a native cloud services. Our solutions are truly multicloud, supporting applications in customers' data centers, in private clouds, and in public clouds. This means we are ideally positioned to help customers to collect a rich set of business telemetries through these application services, information like application latency, tap information in an online purchase or the location information for end users.

The business-related telemetry we collect, combined with our proven AI-powered analytics engine from Shape, can help customers discover insights about their applications and business transaction. BIG-IP and NGINX application services translate these insights into application configuration policies to automate application delivery. With the addition of Shape, we are setting the bar higher and marching toward a multi-purpose application analytics platform. Such a platform supports application insights and automation and AI ops, as well as AI-enabled security and fraud protection, end-to-end digital experience management and AI-enabled business services.

For example, telemetry data about browser signature or customer credentials can help identify that a request to a retailers website is actually generated by a bot, not a human. This kind of information can be used to help identify fraudulent transactions. We are developing this comprehensive application analytics platform leveraging telemetry from our rich set of application services and Shape's AI-powered analytics.

Today, we offer the most comprehensive application services along the application path. We scale and protect our customers' mission-critical business services. Our application services support more than half of the world's enterprise application workloads. For the future, we are doubling down on application telemetry in cloud analytics. We are leveraging machine learning and AI to help our customers to discover insights about their applications, business flows and user experiences.

As a result of the investments we have made over the last several years, we have the major components required to realize our vision. We will accomplish this level of application insights and automation for multiple complementary tools designed to address specific customer challenges. The most recent of those tools is the Shape AI Fraud Engine or SAFE. SAFE is a cloud fraud prevention service. We created and refined the initial version in a matter of weeks in response to fraud that first became visible in Shape's analytics and telemetry data. SAFE and Shape-recognized, another analytics-based Shape solution, are both upsell propositions. SAFE enabled a higher level of fraud protection than other cloud security solutions, while recognize and minimizes friction for legitimate application users, and in doing so, drives increase in top-line revenue for customers.

While other Shape solutions targets bots, SAFE targets human fraudsters. Consider that a typical retailer's web traffic is 95% bot traffic. Shape Enterprise Defense can block more of that bot traffic than other cloud security solutions, typically more than 99%. Once the bot traffic is identified and blocked, we then can zoom in and begin to analyze the much smaller volumes of human traffic and to identify very subtle, low volume fraudulent behavior.

Let me share a story about how SAFE works using a customer example. In this case, the customer is a $30 billion dollar market capped nationwide restaurant chain. With COVID-19, more customers than ever before began ordering food online. Bad actors were eager to take advantage of these new patterns. In one month, the chain lost $600,000 to an incredibly clever discount scheme that used fake credit cards. The fraudsters would use social media to advertise 70% or 80% discounts on meals if customers ordered and paid through them. The fraudsters then used fake credit cards or other payments to place orders at the restaurant. Food is prepared and picked up. Only later does the restaurant discover that the payment method was invalid. With SAFE, we delivered a 90%-plus reduction in fraudulent orders. With SAFE and Shape recognized, F5 delivered a complete set of application security capability that span high-volume bot attacks in the hundreds of millions per day, all the way down to ultra-sophisticated fraud schemes that number in the 10s per day.

We see our journey to creating adaptive applications occurring in four Acts, each of which brings with it, new growth opportunities for F5. With Acts 2 through 4, we are also expanding our addressable opportunity. From a timing perspective, we are working multiple Acts in parallel. In Act 1, we took steps to expand our opportunity within traditional applications. In this phase, we unlocked new growth opportunity by adding automation and orchestration to our existing software solutions. We made them lighter weight. We made them easier to procure, consume and deploy. We made upgrades easier. The majority of the software growth of this year and last, comes as a result of these actions and we believe there is additional growth ahead. We continue to innovate on next generation BIG-IP software that will further differentiate F5 in traditional applications.

The addition of NGINX took us into Act 2, opening a new addressable opportunity for F5. NGINX enables us to serve modern application environments and cloud native application. In fact, half of NGINX deployments are in the public cloud. NGINX also brought us modern application services including API Gateway and API Management, Kubernetes seamless control and micro services proxy. NGINX enables us to win against, competing software vendors and cloud data services that lock customers into a specific architecture, putting infrastructure and development teams at odds.

We took a different approach with the new version of NGINX Controller, our orchestration and analytics platform. We expect Controller will bridge the divide between dev teams building modern apps and the infrastructure teams that need to secure scale and monitor them. We believe Act 2 brings significant growth opportunity and complements our existing BIG-IP footprint.

Act 3 is all about application security. While the last decade was focused on network security, we believe the next opportunity is application security. We started this Act organically, focused on traditional applications. The addition of NGINX gives us the opportunity to expand application security to modern applications. And the addition of Shape adds significant capability to serve both traditional and modern applications, doubling our application security opportunity from $4 billion to $8 billion. We are well on our way to establishing ourselves as the leading security player for our traditional application security solutions. We are very early on in our efforts to apply best-in-class security to modern applications with the combination of F5 and NGINX. And we are only beginning to tap the potential of growth for Shape.

In Act 4, we will leverage analytics to drive automation and deliver business insights. We will leverage our broad application services and Shape's powerful analytics to deliver AI-enabled security and fraud protection, digital experience management, application performance management, and AI ops and analytics-enabled business services. Through our existing investments, we are well on our way to delivering this vision for customers. We are creating a differentiated application services platform that will enable adaptive applications, helping customers accelerate their digital transformations and fundamentally changing the way applications are delivered and secured.

Let me wrap up the prepared remarks from today's call by thanking the entire F5 team again, as well as our customers and partners. We are more confident than ever that our vision, our investments and our innovation are well aligned with both near and longer-term customer demand. With that, operator, we will now open the call to Q&A.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Tim Long with Barclays. Your line is open.

Tim Long -- Barclays -- Analyst

Thank you. Yeah, two quick ones, if I could. Frank or Francois, first, could you just give a little color on how the performance was in the cloud or hyperscale space where you guys obviously have been increasing the service offering there? So could you just give us a little flavor on how that's going? And then second, I was hoping you could talk a little bit about the telco business. I think you announced a win with Rakuten again. It might have been your second one. So if you could just talk a little bit about how you see your solutions positioning in a 5G world maybe more so than what we saw in a 4G world for the telco vertical. Thank you.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Tim. So I'll start with our solutions in the public cloud. Generally, we're seeing a continuation of the trends of the past few quarters, which is that our footprint in public cloud is accelerating and growing faster. And I'll give you a couple of components of that. First, of course, our partnership with AWS continues to increase the number of opportunities that we have in public cloud, largely because AWS is making a number of opportunities in the multicloud platform than before, so that's helping and contributing to accelerate our growth in public cloud. We are also seeing with NGINX, a large number of deployments, I think, kind of half of the NGINX deployments are in public cloud. And so we're now seeing an opportunity to be in front of modern applications in public cloud, but also applications that were traditional applications that are being refactored and moved to the public cloud. NGINX has a very strong value proposition to keep us in front of refactored applications, especially when they're going multicloud. That solidified value proposition of multicloud against native tools is very compelling. So generally continued growth in and with public cloud providers.

Tim, you mentioned hyperscalers as well. I will say that we are in front of the infrastructure of some of the hyperscalers, providing a number of customer-facing applications such as collaboration applications and so we had an opportunity to scale with these applications as well. As it relates to telco and the evolution, as you know, we've had a very strong presence in the 4G, specifically in the Gi LAN infrastructure mobile providers and we are about to transition into 5G. We are seeing a substantial ramp-up in the number of 5G opportunities, and that is a very strong kind of upcoming catalyst for -- it's a very strong upcoming catalyst for our software, because a lot of these 5G opportunities take advantage of the more predominant virtualization and essentially that most of the opportunities now are software-driven. We have now won an important design win in environments that are essentially qualitative and container-native and we've been able to win these opportunities with a combination of -- at five BIG-IP and NGINX sitting in these cloud native environments. So our excitement about telco and 5G is we're seeing here the kind of breadth of the F5 application services playing an important role in the new architectures.

Tim Long -- Barclays -- Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Tim.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of James Fish with Piper Sandler. Your line is open.

James Fish -- Piper Sandler & Co. -- Analyst

Hey guys, thanks for the question. NGINX was picking up thrust ahead of the quarter. And I was just wondering, if the new integrated architecture is starting to lead toward more wins with that architecture or is it a refresh of it or is it more the refresh in terms of purchasing more what is known through F5. And I guess also, how are you thinking about leveraging NGINX and F5 for moving it into the edge computing world.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

I'll start with the first part of your question around what's -- and I want to make sure, James, you're asking about what is -- what are the channels sort of driving growth in the NGINX business?

James Fish -- Piper Sandler & Co. -- Analyst

It's more about understanding, Francois, if this new combined architecture of having NGINX and F5 together is leading toward more wins with customers or if it's customers right now, just spending to keep the lights on and buying what they knew before.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Oh, OK. Thank you for clarifying, James. So the answer is absolutely yes. I mean, this quarter, we had the highest ever number of quality product deals won by F5 and largely driven by combinations of F5, BIG-IP and NGINX value proposition coming together. And I'll give you a couple of examples. We have ported F5 App Security fans onto NGINX and we're now starting to see a number of customers out there since, wanting to take advantage of the fast security, so what we call NGINX Fast Protect, which we released last quarter. It's getting a lot of traction and helping accelerate the monetization of NGINX. We're also seeing with the Controller that we have introduced, traction around our API Gateway and API Management Solution, and we're able to add that to customers that already have F5 solutions. So examples are multi-part, you know that this is manifested in a large number of the term subscription that we sold this quarter were a combination of F5 and NGINX together. So this better-together story of really bridging the world of DevOps and the world of NetOps together are giving more visibility to network operators see into their OSS environment that is starting to play out in our customers. And that's one of the drivers of our [Technical Issues].

Your second question was around edge computing. So, we today have, we call it, a light asset edge service called Silverline, which largely offer managed Web Application Firewalls and DDoS as a managed service and we've now brought in Shape's anti-fraud technology on top of that offering. And so we are -- we're able to serve the needs of some customers that want edge capability. We don't intend to go in a -- in capex-intensive way into the edge computing market ourselves but, our fundamental value proposition of the company, James, is that we are essentially infrastructure market. And so we -- our solutions can be deployed in public clouds, on-prem, in private clouds, and in partnership with CDM providers. So we have a number of partnerships as well with CDM players that could use our app security stack to protect applications for the whole set posted at the edge.

James Fish -- Piper Sandler & Co. -- Analyst

Got it, thank you for all that color and take care.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, James.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Sami Badri with Credit Suisse. Your line is open.

Sami Badri -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Hi, thank you very much for the question and congrats on the solid numbers for the quarter. My question mainly is to do with this new vision you're laying out, the adoptive application vision. Is this predominantly going to be offered in the form of an ELA or a very, very flexible consumption agreement with your customers and where exactly that will be consumed? Is this going to be multicloud, is this going to be predominantly offered to customers scaling applications and public clouds? Can you just give us more of an idea on how mechanically the numbers are going to work or your revenue sources are going to work once this kind of like really rolls out and begins more -- begins to be more mainstream with your customer base?

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Sami, thank you. Well, some of it is still to play out, but I think of the consumption examples that you mentioned, it's all of the above. We are -- by the way, I should say we are already seeing elements of that vision come into play today. We're seeing that with a joint venture and customers deploying F5 and NGINX together, in this quarter, what we see is in this environment, customers want to kind of consolidate on vendors that offer a strong breadth of application services and so there is a number of deals we've already won this quarter where essentially we're taking up these players and these solutions our customers may have that have most of their future needs. They kind of look at the vision of where F5 is going and they already think three or four of these application services together to change the digital experience. And so we're starting to see that happen in real-time in the opportunities that we're winning today. And today that's happening within due to our combination of hardware and software, due to our combination of on-prem and public cloud. We're seeing that with customers protecting a combination of traditional and modern applications and we're now starting to see that with Shape contributing to the vision with the integrations we've already made with Shape and our Silverline offering and customers consuming that as a managed service.

So you are -- we are early days in that, the realization as time goes on, of the vision is going to get much bigger. And as you saw in the four Acts that we presented, I think over time, the opportunity for F5 gets much larger. But you're already seeing some of these consumption model and consolidations of application delivery and application security across multiple types of infrastructure. That's actually starting to play out right now.

Sami Badri -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Got it, got it. Thank you for that color. And kind of like taking what you just said, and just kind of framing the way we should be looking at the forward-looking business here is, as adoptive applications continues to scale, we will expect services software NGINX, Shape to kind of be attached to that. But when we look at like some of the reported metrics that you guys have delivered on systems growth specifically and these kind of double-digit declines, should we expect this trend essentially continue with systems continuously to be declining, whereas the rest of the business is growing? Like should that relationship continue as adoptive applications continues to accelerate?

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Sami, broadly, the answer is yes, because the -- a lot of our customers want to move to the software-first environment. And these software-first environment gives them the flexibility to deploy ultimately the vision for adoptive application. It gives them a lot more flexibility to restart new application services, to take the benefits of automation and orchestration and ultimately to leverage the work we're doing in analytics. So overall, these trends point to -- you'll continue to see our systems business decline and you'll continue to see our software grow and overall, you'll see that the majority of the business of the company will be software.

Sami Badri -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Got it, got it. And I'm sorry that's a third one, there is a lot in this earnings call. Tied to your telecom and service provider opportunities, you've had significant traction with Rakuten obviously the theme of virtualizing, network core is now coming to the U.S. with DISH [Phonetic] being a very, I want to say, first big batter here out to prove itself and the infrastructure. Should it kind of go -- should people be making the assumption that since you guys were very effective at insertions with Rakuten in a virtualized core broad that your advantages and your know-how and how to do this in certain use cases and functions in the U.S. cores, should we basically have some conviction in this idea or would you say that this is going to be completely different, there is going to be a new bidding process, etc, because the idea of virtualizing cores for telcos is now, I guess we can all agree, is pretty complicated stuff? So I'm -- we're just trying to get an idea on how big or if traction is going to be one of the big drivers for F5 going forward in telco and SB.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Sami, I think you should -- the way to think about this is every carrier, I think is going to be different in their transition from 4G to 5G from basically core, some will not use that. But overall, if you look at the 5G architecture and where kind of the end state of where people are going, we feel very, very good about the work we've done, the special sauce that F5 brings to this 5G architecture to be inserted in large carrier infrastructure, whether it's in the U.S. or actually in Asia or in Europe. And we have already some important design wins beyond Rakuten investments. So I think you should read from that, that we have pretty good conviction around the role that we're going to play in 5G infrastructure going forward.

Sami Badri -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Got it. All right, thank you very much, Francois.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Sami.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Samik Chatterjee with J.P. Morgan. Your line is open.

Samik Chatterjee -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Hi, thanks for taking my question. If I could just follow up firstly on Sami's question here about kind of the vision you're laying out for application services. Just curious how to think about kind of when you think about all the pieces for Act 4, how much of that is organic versus inorganic and kind of some of the AI, etc, capabilities, how much of that do you need to kind of look outside to bring those capabilities in-house. And I have a follow-up.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Hi, Samik. So, if you look at the analytics platform, so when we made the acquisition of Shape, there were multiple reasons we felt strongly this was a great combination with F5. One was, of course, the business that Shape was in at the anti-fraud business. And as I've shared with you, we really think we've entered the era of application capital where more fraud is going to be on applications and Shape is factoring that secular trend and, in fact, we already saw that -- an acceleration of that this quarter with COVID and I can come back to that later. But the anti-fraud business was one of the big reasons for the acquisition.

The second big reason for the acquisition was around technology, and it was the large amounts of money and time that Shape had invested in building an AI-powered analytic platform. And so the reason you see that here and that core part of our vision already realizing is in fact because of the technology assets from Shape. So the M&A as it relates to that essentially has been done with the acquisition. Overall, we don't go out that -- as we march toward this vision of adaptive application, down the road, we might want to accelerate certain things inorganically. But in terms of analytics, specifically, we have a big headstart with the acquisition of Shape.

Samik Chatterjee -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Got it, got it. Thank you. And if I could just follow up, the guidance you showed for fiscal fourth quarter is a narrow range on the revenue related to the last quarter. So it does imply you have more visibility now. Just kind of, again, wanted to get your -- kind of get what you're seeing in relation to kind of customer activity particularly cadence through the quarter. Are the sales cycles compressing a bit relative to what you saw last quarter or is that driving the higher visibility here?

Frank Pelzer -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Samik, this is Frank. So I think our approach was very similar to last quarter. We obviously [Indecipherable] our quarterly business reviews with our sales team. We feel like the guidance that we've given is appropriate and because it was the first quarter that we were living in a post-COVID world, I think we wanted to give a little bit more of a range. But I think we do feel a bit more comfortable going into Q4 with the visibility that we got on that activity that we can take that up by $10 million.

Samik Chatterjee -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Meta Marshall with Morgan Stanley. Your line is open.

Meta Marshall -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Great, thanks. You noted in an answer to a previous question about multi-product deals picking up, but just any commentary you could give on pickup in ELAs or just interest in ELAs in this environment. Maybe, are there people just wanting to know more what they're buying versus open-ended deals? And then maybe second question, any just update on the AWS partnership and any traction you've been able to make without sales or without in-person sales?

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Hi, Meta. So on ELAs, the demand continues to be very strong. And -- but I would say there were kind of two tales to the story there. One of the effect we're seeing in this COVID environment is that customers -- there are some strategic transformations that customers are pushing out, largely because they have to attend to more near-term priorities. So that in a way -- there's some large potential ELAs that could happen this quarter. There are a couple more down the road. But at the same time, we did more ELAs in terms of volumes of transactions, we did more ELAs this quarter than we did ever before. And those ELAs were often a combination of multiple F5 products, so BIG-IP, Plus NGINX and now we've started to see Shape as well. So that's where we are on ELAs.

And as it relates to the AWS partnership, we're making very good progress. We have -- we are getting a lot of visibility from AWS in terms of new opportunities and we are kind of ahead of where we thought we would be at this point in the relationship. And I think we'll see further acceleration in 2021 toward working on joint solution integration and also now working within our joint migration partners to accelerate the work we're doing for migration of workloads. So overall good traction so far, and may expect even more in 2021 from the joint collaboration.

Meta Marshall -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Great, thanks. Congrats.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Alex Henderson with Needham. Your line is open.

Alex Henderson -- Needham & Company -- Analyst

Thank you very much. I was hoping you could talk a little bit about the timeline between the various phases you described in your presentation. Clearly you've already done Phase 1 and positioned into Phase 2 with Kubernetes and application growth driving that vector. It's pretty clear that for the next X number of years, that's going to be a very high rate of growth. I was wondering if you could give us a little granularity around that. Do you expect to gain share as a result of your high rate o f penetration in Kubernetes and increasing Kubernetes deployment as a percent of new applications and therefore gain share within the application market?

And then the second question is, as you move into the Phase 3 and Phase 4, how do you see those ramping in as a contribution to the software growth rates? Is that a stutter for a year or so and then get a real head of steam around it to get into the Phase 3 or is that already happening and when does Phase 4 kick in? Thank you. Alex, thank you. Let me take you through the timelines of those. So Act 1, which is really F5 providing app delivery against traditional applications. Of course it's happening right now, largely driven with our BIG-IP platform and a lot of the work that we have done over the last two, three years have been moving to software-first environment with a lot of innovations in our models that has gone on to be successful in this more automated, orchestrated software environment including public cloud. And I would say a lot of the growth you have seen in our software today has really come from Act 1. Act 2, which is F5 getting in front of modern applications really started with the acquisition of NGINX. And you're right, Alex, about the penetration of Kubernetes environment. We are accelerating in that space. And yes, we do intend to gain share in the modern application space because we worked there before. And that is something that's starting to play out now and I think is going to play out for the next several years. I would say, we're still in the early innings of us, A, being part of modern applications, and, B, monetizing that further. The stuff we've done with taking up the application security solution from F5 and putting out on NGINX is an example. The new NGINX Controller, the new application services like API Gateway that we brought, all of these things are starting to provide traction on Act 2. Act 3 is really around protecting both traditional and modern applications. We have started down organically with F5, that's how our security business was part of our software growth, but that is being accelerated with Shape and we intend to port the Shape capability across the F5 portfolio. So we've already ported the Shape capabilities on Silverline, which is our managed security service. But we will have Shape capabilities with BIG-IP, we will have it with NGINX. So Act 3 is already contributing today. But you should expect it to contribute even more in the future. So I would say Act 2 and 3, over the next couple of years, will contribute meaningfully. Act 4, I think in terms of -- if you're thinking in terms of material contribution to our financial performance, I would say, Act 4 is really beyond the next couple of years. From a technology perspective, we already have a lot of components. We are -- we started engaging with our customers around some of the solutions that resonate the most with them around leveraging analytics to give them the right insights for their application. Shape actually has already started linking a couple of solutions that do just that. But I think in terms of that becoming a material contributor to us, we think that's beyond the next couple of years. If I could just follow-up, it's my understanding that you guys are the dominant Controller that's used in Kubernetes deployments today and if Kubernetes increases as a -- sharply as a percentage of new applications, doesn't that, by definition, drive share gains?

Kara Sprague -- Executive Vice President and General Manager, Application Services

Hi. Alex. This is Kara. With NGINX, we have a solution that is tailor-made to be deployed in micro services and container-native environment such as Kubernetes and it is the leading collection of web server in those environments for modern customer-facing digital experiences. And so, we think with NGINX's and its presence in hundreds of millions of those kind of consumer-facing modern applications, we have a good headstart for then inserting some of those security capabilities and the analytics capabilities that Francois talked about.

Alex Henderson -- Needham & Company -- Analyst

I knew I could get Kara on somehow. Thanks, guys.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Paul Silverstein with Cowen. Your line is open.

Paul Silverstein -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Thanks, I appreciate it. Francois and Frank, I was hoping you could tell us what was the Shape contribution to revenue and related to that, obviously, what was the organic software revenue growth in the quarter. And then I've got a quick follow-up.

Frank Pelzer -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Hey, Paul. So, it was a little less than $20 million. And so without Shape, I think the number would have been 14%.

Paul Silverstein -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

14% organic revenue growth.

Frank Pelzer -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Correct.

Paul Silverstein -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Okay. Just an observation -- question relates to an observation. Francois, your 5G commentary was different, just going around what you said historically. Historically, you've made the comment -- the observation that you won't see meaningful 5G revenue until there was meaningful take-up of 5G services because what you did with later in the cycle dependent upon the take-up of those services in terms of number of users and the intensity of use. And your commentary on this call seem to be very different in terms of seeing traction now. I'm just trying to understand exactly what you're saying. And before you respond, the other question would be, your ASEAN and India commentary, I just want to make sure I understood it. Are you saying that not only did you get hit hard early on, but you haven't seen any improvement? Was it -- is it still in the doldrums or you're seeing any signs of that coming back relative to the impact of COVID-19. Appreciate it.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Paul, let me start with ASEAN. I think it's still -- the business there is still impacted. In India and then to be specific, I'm talking about India and a few of the countries in the ASEAN region either because of first lockdowns or second waves and countries going back into lockdown, such as seen before. But generally in that region, we have been impacted throughout -- through the last, really, 60 days and it's kind of ongoing.

On 5G, Paul, I think, I said two things in the past. One is, I said, once we would see 5G radios deployed that we would start to see capacity upgrades in the core. And I would say to a large extent, we haven't seen those yet and I think there is still to come. I do think in the very short term some carriers have diverted from spend that would have gone on wireless infrastructure into wirelines where, in fact, work-from-home issues that increased capacity, issues on fixed infrastructure and that's true for kind of a carrier that combine wireless and wireline infrastructure. But what I'm seeing as it relates to 5G opportunities for F5 is, we are now seeing a ramp up in opportunities in 5G and we have already some design wins that gives us confidence in the role we're going to play.

So I would expect to see that start to contribute to us next year. Exactly when, I won't be able to put or pinpoint which quarter because as you know that service providers -- you can't predict the exact -- accurately. But I would expect that next year, we will see those sort of contributing.

Paul Silverstein -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Thanks, Francois, one quick follow-up, if I may. Once upon a time F5 was a 40% operating margin company and I understand you'll have needed to make investments to reposition the company. But you're now down at 28% and change. Any thoughts on if and when we'd see a healthy rebound in operating margin and you start to leverage the revenue growth you're starting to generate?

Frank Pelzer -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Paul, we'll have more to talk about this when we talk about our next quarter, as well as when we reschedule the end presentation. But I do feel like we're closer to the bottom here and I think you'll see with the Q4 guide that we've given, we're ramping back up from here and expect to see that continue. Appreciate it. Thanks, Frank.

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Paul.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 68 minutes

Call participants:

Suzanne DuLong -- Vice President of Investor Relations

Francois Locoh-Donou -- President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Frank Pelzer -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Kara Sprague -- Executive Vice President and General Manager, Application Services

Tim Long -- Barclays -- Analyst

James Fish -- Piper Sandler & Co. -- Analyst

Sami Badri -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Samik Chatterjee -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Meta Marshall -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Alex Henderson -- Needham & Company -- Analyst

Paul Silverstein -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

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