SonicWall CEO confirms Dell is vendor’s largest channel
@DellTechnologies has become @SonicWall ‘s largest channel partner less than a year after selling the security vendor, according to its CEO.
Dell completed the sale of its software group, including SonicWall, in November last year, triggering a turnaround project for the SonicWall management team and new boss @BillConner.
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While SonicWall had said all along that Dell would remain a key ally, channel partners had been hesitant at how this partnership could look – but an OEM agreement was announced in August that will see Dell resell a range of SonicWall products.
Speaking to Channelnomics’ UK sister title ahead of SonicWall’s UK Peak partner conference, Conner said that Dell is now SonicWall’s largest channel, but that existing partners need not be concerned.
“It was clearly a huge early worry, as you saw from the coverage and from the partners, but as we’ve done it and managed it they’re more comfortable,” he said.
“The ones that want to partner with Dell partner with Dell, and the ones that are in [our program] can still partner with Dell.
“I’ve got the best of all worlds and actually so do the customers because they can pick the brands they want. In a lot of cases that’s under the Dell umbrella because that’s the preferred motion. In other cases it’s through a channel and it can be Dell or not Dell, depending on their preference, so they have a choice.”
Impact on partners
SonicWall’s management had previously told Channelnomics’ UK sister title that innovation was stifled under Dell’s ownership.
A new roadmap was introduced earlier this year, and since then a range of new products have been launched and the vendor’s software has been overhauled.
Vinny Booth, director at UK-based security VAR Solved IT, said that the rapid turnaround has helped the partner prevent the loss of £300,000-worth ($394,000) of business from customers preparing to turn their back on SonicWall.
He said that showing these customers beta versions of the new products and software was enough to convince them to stick with SonicWall, and credited the troubles to Dell’s tenure.
“We had a massive potential of losing a lot of business – four or five really significant enterprise clients who told us in no uncertain terms that they would not be going SonicWall,” he said. “Two were going to go Palo Alto [Networks], one of them was going Fortinet, one was undecided and one was 100 percent going Cisco.
“We were looking at over £300,000 that we had to factor in that we’d lost because of what we now know was Dell. We’ve gone out and we’ve spoken to those customers and with the exception of one – which was 100 percent going down the Cisco route and is now 50/50 – [we’ve kept them].”
Booth did say, however, that he is concerned to see the dynamic of the OEM agreement with Dell, suggesting that in the UK, customers could be the ones to suffer.
“SonicWall did announce that to the world with a great big smile on their face, but as a partner I don’t find that anything to smile about,” he said.
Moving to address partner fears, SonicWall channel boss Steve Pataky stressed that the Dell OEM agreement gives partners more variety when choosing which channel to put a deal through.
“I’ve seen no channel conflict,” he said. “What I was excited about when they made the decision to OEM was that, for partners that really were teamed up with Dell, we weren’t forcing them to go outside of that relationship. That protects the relationship and their integrity with their Dell sales rep.
“If it’s a non-Dell transaction, they’ll partner through us. We’ve done some great stuff in the program to make sure we acknowledge some of the purchases they’re making through Dell, so we’re trying to make it really seamless.
“Buy it where it makes sense, based on where the deal has originated and who you’re working with. If you’re working with Dell, by all means continue to make it flow that way.”