Networking, Channel chiefs, Channel partner programs

SonicWall CEO’s Cybersecurity Message: Now That’s Refreshing

Steve Pataky
Steve Pataky
SonicWall CEO Bill Conner

Just about everyone is pressing the cybersecurity panic button these days. One notable exception: SonicWall President and CEO Bill Conner. Instead of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) to drive partner sales and customer adoption, Conner is taking the exact opposite approach.

His new mantra: SonicWall is innovating more, so that customers and partners can "fear less." That message is part of a new marketing campaign for the security company. But that's not all. The company's partner program is accelerating, and a new SonicWall University will help to empower partners with timely education and associated certifications, the company says.

During a recent ChannelE2E briefing, Conner and two of his key lieutenants -- VP of Marketing Bill Odell and Channel Chief Steve Pataky -- described the company's overall business and partner strategy, key initiatives and recent milestones. The key takeaway: SonicWall has been plenty busy with its pure partner strategy since Dell sold the company to private equity investors in 2016.

"We’ve been kind of busy for last 150 days or so," quips Conner. The journey under private equity ownership so far has "been better than I could have planned, dreamed or imagined."

Why's that? Consider these metrics: Sonicwall's SecureFirst partner program now has 10,000+ registered partners, and 20 percent of those parters are new to SonicWall. And new upgrades -- like Secure Mobile Access (SMA) solution enhancements -- have caught on fast with partners. That's pretty darn impressive, considering some SonicWall relationships became strained under Dell's former ownership.

Conner credits SonicWall's R&D team coupled with Channel Chief Steve Pataky for the momentum.  "Steve is a lifelong enablement guy as you know," Conner says.

Fresh Messaging, Timely Education

Still, R&D alone won't set SonicWall apart from entrenched rivals and emerging competitors. In recent months, players like...

Amid that competitive landscape, SonicWall is launching major marketing and education initiatives. The efforts will prove that SonicWall's partners "don't subscribe to fears" about security. Nor do they sit back or ignore the market shifts around them, Conner adds.

With those realities in mind, SonicWall will be working overtime to focus partners on new threats, while driving awareness about new products that keep customers out of harm's way.

"It's all about driving home a message of confidence," adds Odell. "If you look at marketing in the security sector right now, it's doom and gloom. Our partners and customers don't need more of that. Fear Less assures them they can sleep better at night, with confidence, by working with us."

SonicWall University Launch

But Fear Less is more than a marketing campaign. SonicWall is serious about closing the cybersecurity skills gap, according to Pataky, especially as partners confront today's three biggest threats -- namely:

 To address those threats, the company has launched SonicWall University. The university is a channel enablement program -- and an extension of the SecureFirst Partner Program. It communicates insights that the company has gleaned from the SonicWall GRID Threat Network to the partner community in a structure they can learn from easily, the company claims.

The foundation for SonicWall University was in place even before launch: More than 5,600 individuals already hold SonicWall technical certifications. Now partners can also access SonicWall University training modules via an on-demand, web-based platform. 

The university launched today, along with the "Innovate More, Fear Less" marketing campaign. At this pace, one can only imagine what SonicWall will dream up in the next 150 days...

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.