Security vendor SonicWall has announced two new initiatives focused on its partner channel. They have launched SonicWall University to better train partners. They are also launching a series of global marketing programs with an upbeat tone to better position SonicWall as able to protect customers against today’s top threats.
“These first 150 days since the separation from Dell have been exciting as far as movement for the company,” said Bill Conner, SonicWall’s President and CEO. “Steve [Pataky, SonicWall’s VP of Worldwide Security Sales] and I had grand expectations, but we have surpassed them, both in terms of the number of partners and the time frame in which they signed up.”
Over 10,000 partners have registered as SonicWall resellers – 2000 more than at the time of separation.
“We also have a richer mix of partners than we used to have,” Pataky said. “There are still the traditional security VARs, and a healthy mix of MSPs. But what’s really different this time around is a mix of all kinds of different solution providers, including ones focused on applications, on data centres, and ones who are vertically oriented. It’s related to awareness of what’s going on in cyber, and ransomware in particular. Any IT solution provider now has to be able to answer the ‘am I secure?’ question that customers ask.”
Conner highlighted the SonicWall 2017 Annual Threat Report, particularly its focus on ransomware, which the report indicated grew by 167 times year-over-year to 638 million incidents, most of which were launched through email. Ransomware, encrypted communications (SSL/TLS) and email threats have thus become the focus both of the new training initiative, and the marketing initiative.
“The Threat Report was big news, and the Cybergap is much more pronounced among SMBs,” Conner said. “That led to the decision to create a net-new program, SonicWall University, and start to apply it to both our own employees and partners to deal with these new threats. Our new marketing campaign theme is around breach prevention – that protection itself is no longer sufficient – and that our training is around these new threats.”
Pataky emphasized that SonicWall University is significantly different from SonicWall’s training efforts in the past.
“We have had traditional certification, which was very post-sales technically focused, and training for the field,” he said. “We did not have a single online learning platform that would not only offer curriculum for various roles, but which would foster ongoing learning. The learning is strongly tied to the overall threat landscape and the Cyber arms race. It is also global, and free of charge.”
“We built SonicWall University to be role-based – sales, post-sales, and support,” Conner said.
In addition to expanding the breadth of training to new roles in an organization, SonicWall University’s training was designed to be ongoing, including up-to-the-minute threat update content based on the SonicWall GRID Threat Network.
“They will receive a sales or technical accreditation, but the platform will remind them when there is new content, whether about new malware or a new solution or a new sales tool,” Pataky said. “It’s also not just SonicWall content. We are working with industry third parties with great content, and we also publish content created by our own channel ecosystem. Ongoing education like this is what’s needed –not just being recertified every two years.”
SonicWall University is available now at no cost to authorized partners in the SonicWall SecureFirst Partner Program.
The marketing campaign is focused on responses to partner requests to help educate prospective and current customers about today’s cyberthreats, especially ransomware.
“Last year at our Peak event we were inundated with partners asking us how to talk about ransomware,” said Bill Odell, SonicWall’s VP of Marketing. “They asked if we could make a video about this. They also asked similar things about encrypted threats, and email threats.”
Partners can access prepackaged campaign materials and apply for MDF funds online through the SonicWall Partner Portal. Partners can earn special discounts and rebates for using these programs to drive business, and it’s all integrated into SonicWall’s SecureFirst Partner Program.
“The content is all available online, and is custom-made for different types of partners – VARs, MSPs and distis,” Odell said. “It’s easy to use at events like ‘lunch and learns.’ It emphasizes that you need to think beyond just relying on a next-gen firewall for protection, and need to consider our Capture Threat Protection Service, tying email into that, and secure mobile access. The solution brief will be very comprehensive.”
Odell also said the campaign will avoid the customary tactic of scaring customers about ransomware and other advanced persistent threats to get them to buy.
“We think the marketing campaign itself is really innovative,” he said. “There is so much narrative in this business around doom and gloom. Our messaging is really counter to what’s out there. We want people to know that there are good things going on, and that the industry is making progress against these threats. We want to build confidence rather than make people fearful.”