When SonicWall split from Dell last fall, many of SonicWall’s traditional partners couldn’t have been happier. But for SonicWall, the new opportunity also means a lot of work shoring up old relationships, and building some new ones.
LAS VEGAS – Last November, SonicWall ended its tenure as an entity within Dell and was spun off to once again be a separate company. While many of its traditional smaller partners – who liked the 100 per cent channel and SMB focus of the old SonicWall — were ecstatic about leaving Dell, SonicWall itself has had a much more complex reaction. While seeing real benefits of focus in being independent, and being a main brand rather than a sub-brand, SonicWall also continued to see real benefits in the Dell connection, particularly as it sought to move upmarket from that traditional SMB base. Dell is not only their largest customer, but a key partner. And SonicWall acquired many new partners through Dell – who they want to keep after leaving Dell.
Accordingly, SonicWall had a strong and visible presence at the Dell EMC event in Vegas this week, with a very clear goal – to maintain and strengthen those ties with both Dell and its partner base.
“So much has been written about our separation from Dell,” said Steve Pataky, SonicWall’s VP of Worldwide Security Sales. “This event, however, is a critical affirmation of how important Dell is for SonicWall – not just Dell but their PartnerDirect channel. We are meeting with all our substantial partners while we are here. Our message is that Dell and these partners are integral to our strategy.”
Pataky said that SonicWall believes that it needs to validate its relationship with these key Dell partners it acquired when they were part of Dell.
“My one-on-ones here are with these partners who became SonicWall partners who worked with us because we were partners of Dell,” he said. “The question is – how do we keep that momentum going in these relationships. These are typically not traditional security guys at all. Even though security is so much more important now, we think we have to show them the value we bring as a company coming from outside.
“Now that we aren’t inside Dell any more, it makes us have to be really crisp with Dell and the Dell channel what our value proposition is,” he said. “It provides us with that opportunity to translate how that value applies to them.”
Pataky said all this is complicated by the fact that many of these Dell partners are also trying to define their relationship with the new EMC side of the house in Dell EMC.
“A lot of the guys we are meeting with here are traditional big Dell partners, who are trying to figure out themselves what they will do with EMC,” he said. “We need to define where we fit with them among the security offerings that come with EMC. Where do we fit? We have to know that, and we have an opportunity to figure that out.”
Pataky indicated that SonicWall has a great advantage even in the midst of the stable of EMC security offerings, because their firewall platforms have no direct equivalent there.
“The firewall is a great story for us,” he said. “At the same time, these big Dell partners aren’t looking to go make money by selling some firewalls. They want to know how we fit into their total solution. SonicWall is also known for its strength in the SMB and mid-market, but we also scale up well, and we have had a lot of success with Dell in the distributed enterprise space. There’s an opportunity to explore there, and we need to make them aware of the value that we bring there.”
SonicWall has added internal resources to make this happen.
“We’ve beefed up our Dell team,” Pataky said. “I’ve onboarded a new executive who is in charge of the Dell relationship.”
While looking for common ground with legacy EMC partners is certainly on the horizon, Pataky indicated that the focus for the moment is on the legacy Dell side.
“We are here at this conference because it’s a Dell conference, and a Dell partner conference, and we will always support that,” he said. “Talking with legacy EMC partners hasn’t been a focus yet. I will want to talk to legacy EMC partners, and explore what our value proposition is, but this is something where we will definitely pick and choose.”