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Live Blog: SonicWall’s LIfe After Dell, PEAK Partner Summit

Curtis Hutcheson
Curtis Hutcheson

Dell PEAK -- a partner summit for SonicWall's security partners -- kicked off Monday morning in Las Vegas. ChannelE2E's coverage continues today (Tuesday). Keep checking this live blog for updates.

Among the key themes and updates we are tracking: Dell's sale of SonicWall and other assets to Francisco Partners and Elliott Management Corp. sounds like it will close in November 2016, according to sound bites company executives shared on stage.

SonicWall is clearly communicating that the firewall company will be a standalone business, free of potential channel conflicts from Dell.

During opening sessions here, SonicWall executives described a new partner program that will launch once the company sale is finalized. Plus, new steps to ensure partner profitability, gray market reductions, and faster-than-market growth n the security sector. ChannelE2E updates from the conference will continue through the close of business on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Keep checking for more takeaways below.

Curtis Hutcheson, VP and GM: Company Overview

The conference just kicked off. There are roughly 770 registered attendees, representing 21 countries. Hutcheson indicated:

  • "Everyone in our business is in sales" -- meaning that the company is committed to driving partner success, not direct sales.
  • The company has 1,500 security professionals, 4.7 billion intrusions blocked daily, and 1 million networks protected.
  • Roughly 60 percent of attacks target SMBs, and 80 percent don't have adequate data protection.
  • Hutcheson, quoting an analyst, says ransomware is only in its first inning of a nine inning game.
  • Network security typically has a 4.5 year upgrade cycle. But as part of the company sale due diligence, 40 percent of customers want to upgrade or replace their network security in the next year.
  • SonicWall has over 90 percent loyalty in its installed base, according to due diligence involving the business unit's sale.
  • Referring to partners in the room, he said: "You've dealt with some channel conflict wounds. That's what's about to change."
  • SonicWall will have an arms-length deal with Dell, and Dell won't see the deals that partners are working on, Hutcheson asserted.
  • The new owners are security-savvy and will run SonicWall as a completely independent company.
  • "You'll see you move faster, but we've got to continue building faster in North America."
  • The company has a 10 to 12 percent growth rate, but wants to grow faster.

Steve Pataky, Head of Sales and Channel Chief: Covering 'Partnering to Win'

Steve Pataky

They are laying out the work SonicWall is doing to separate from Dell and stand up the best partnering ecosystem in the security business.

  • Net new partners transacting with SonicWall is growing quarter over quarter.
  • SonicWall's partnering fundamentals involve six core values: (1) Customer and partner first; (2) sell and partner with integrity; (3) security is a mission; (4) partner profitably; (5) invest in programs, tools and resources; (6) and ease of doing business.
  • What SonicWall is hearing from partners: (1) Focus on profitability; (2) training; (3) air cover an demand communications; (4) support and services practice; and (5) tools and systems.
  • As of Day One of the company sale, SonicWall will have a new Secure First partner program.
  • SonicWall is striving to clean up "gray market clean up" -- the company formed a SWAT team to address it. Restricted SKUs and registration tools have helped to address this, but SonicWall will continue to track this closely to ensure street prices and partner profits remain healthy.
  • "We want to be the platform of choice for MSPs."
  • SonicWall will make sure the company's support and services are available for resale.

Patrick Sweeney & Boris Yanovsky

  • Patrick Sweeney Patrick Sweeney
    Boris Yanovksy Boris Yanovksy

    They're offering a year in review; market goals; strategy; product direction and R&D.

  • The firewall market is growing 12 percent annually, and will become the first $10 billion security market, Sweeney claims. I wonder if anti-virus actually beat firewalls to that figure.
  • Firewall is the natural doorway into the security market, he asserted.
  • Fastest-growing portion of security market is the services and outsourcing market. I suspect that means a heavy MSP emphasis.
  • "FireEye will be weeping" because more and more security capabilities will flow toward the markets and technologies SonicWall serves, he says.
  • SonicWall is moving toward cloud-based security management, reporting and analytics.
  • The company is set to partner with client-side security companies. Sounds like they are countering Sophos network-to-client strategy.

Chris Auger Covering Americas Channel Strategy

  • The number one objective is to grow faster than the IT market security sector -- 12 to 15 percent or more.
  • To do that, SonicWall will improve solution completeness, operational efficiency for partners and competitive differentiation.
  • On the solution completeness front, he described a range of services and add-on opportunities for SonicWall's firewalls.
  • On operational efficiency, he described how the SonicWall GMS platform allows partners to more effectively manage more and more customers. He pointed to a cloud-based version that's coming soon -- though it's important for ChannelE2E to note that multiple rivals have cloud-based management dashboards.
  • Security as a service drives recurring revenue opportunities that boost the value of a VAR or MSP business, he asserted -- a familiar statement for loyal ChannelE2E readers.
  • Keep a close eye on SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection Services... It "differentiates" the firewall provider from rivals, the company claims. "Put Capture at the top of your list to differentiate in the market," he asserted.

Stephanie Mims, Executive Director of Customer Success

Stephanie Mims
  • "It's about how do we retain and keep customers loyal."
  • The transformation includes an extensive timeline that stretches from FY17 through FY18 and beyond. "It's a journey that takes time."
  • The first thing implemented is a new escalation function. It's available to the sales team now and will reach partners in the near future.
  • SonicWall's Net Promoter Score has improved from the low 40%s to the high 60%s, though she conceded there's more work to be done.
  • The company is overhauling its knowledge base, cleaning up documentation and focusing heavily on IT lifecycle management to improve support.
  • The IT lifecycle management focus will involve (1) plan and deploy, (2) support and maintain and (3) renew and upgrade.
  • She described a multi-quarter rollout that delivers best-of-breed customer support services to partners. Check in with her for the planned quarterly milestones.

More updates coming shortly.

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.