SonicWall partners haven’t hid their dour sentiments over Dell’s acquisition of their security vendor. Many have said they’d rather start looking for an alternative firewall and unified threat management (UTM) supplier than be folded into the sprawling Dell PartnerDirect program.
History has shown in such acquisitions competitors look to capitalize on this sentiment, and that’s precisely what New Jersey-based Cyberoam is doing with an appeal to SonicWall partners and customers. The underlying message: Don’t risk disruption; come to Cyberoam.
“As it has been seen many times over in the past, product-people-philosophy have not always merged in cases of corporate mergers and acquisitions. Dell’s focus has been on the personal computer industry so far and not on security. Dell’s takeover of SonicWall’s business may dilute focus on the security business in the longer term,” says Harish Chib, senior vice president of business development, in a statement.
Cyberoam is offering defecting SonicWall customers free one-year subscriptions with appliance trade-ins on Web content and application security, intrusion prevention and anti-malware software and support.
For SonicWall partners, Cyberoam is offering free training and certifications, no-cost entry into the channel program, and demonstration units. The intent is to get SonicWall partners to quickly convert their customers to Cyberoam appliances and solutions.
“Cyberoam is the only UTM-focused company in the IT security industry today. Our sales strategy is 100 percent driven by our channel community. In fact, we rank third amongst the UTM industry in terms of completeness of our vision and product strategies by a prestigious product analyst firm,” Chib said.
How many SonicWall partners will defect during the Dell transition process? It’s difficult to forecast. According to Dell and SonicWall, more than 70 percent of SonicWall’s 15,000 partners are already registered Dell partners – an impressive overlap, but not necessarily indicative of easy conversion.
Dell has more than 100,000 partners worldwide, most of them in the “registered” category – the lowest rung and mostly not transacting on a regular basis. The number of SonicWall partners who are also active partners is difficult to quantify.
SonicWall and Dell are going to great lengths to reassure solution providers there will be little disruption during the acquisition and integration process. Dell’s global channel chief Greg Davis told Channelnomics that the first rule is do no harm to the existing channel. The goal of integration, he said, is to accelerate and enhance channel sales and profitability.
Solution providers remain skeptical of Dell, as it has a long history of being apathetic and competitive to the channel. In recent years, though, Dell has made great strides in building its channel program and drawing partners to its ranks organically and through acquisitions. Davis says Dell’s acquisitions of Equal Logic and Compellent (storage), SecureWorks (security services) and Force10 Networks (networking) has given it a blueprint for carrying channel programs forward.
“I certainly understand that anxiety can come whenever there is change, but we are very excited about the opportunities this acquisition brings partners. While myself and my team have been reaching out personally to many SonicWALL partners since the announcement, I’d like to ask those I have not spoken with to take a look at our track record with previous acquisitions that had strong channel programs and give us an opportunity to combine the best of the programs for an even stronger PartnerDirect program,” Davis wrote in his blog this morning.
While Dell and SonicWall believe their product and channel merger will produce a benefit to solution providers, attrition will happen. Cyberoam is publicly appealing for partners to defect. Other security vendors that could pick up partners include Fortinet, WatchGuard Technologies, Sophos (Astaro), Check Point, Juniper and Cisco.
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