Country Manager Fortinet India & Saarc
What were the highlights of Fortinet’s performance in 2013?
The year 2013 has been a great year for Fortinet. Globally our billing grew 14 percent YOY to $684.2 million, and revenue went up 15 percent to $615.3 million. In India, we registered a 28 percent growth with sales billings of $14.7 million.
We will outgrow the IT market in 2014 as well. We see tremendous opportunities around advanced persistent threats, data centers with 100 Gbps deployments, and next generation firewall (NGFW).
Our acquisition of Coyote Point has increased our addressable market as we can now pitch end-toend network security solutions.
What are the trends driving the network security market today?
BYOD, shadow IT and the consumerization of technology will continue to drive the demand for security solutions in 2014. Also, because hackers, cyber-criminals and online threats are getting more pernicious than ever, we see unprecedented opportunity for growth.
In the distributed enterprise segment, smaller branch locations are consolidating their internal IT stack to reduce costs, enable secure wireless and simplify management. Today, new network security appliances manage a branch’s perimeter network security and also secure its IP phones, POS devices, surveillance cameras and more.
Infonetics, which recently surveyed organizations with over 1,000 employees and highend firewalls deployments found that the move to faster network technologies is forcing enterprises to upgrade their IT infrastructure.
One the top 10 investment priorities for their CIOs is adding new high speed interfaces to firewalls. IT departments are striving to orchestrate policies to include high-performance firewalls, NGFW, VPN, intrusion prevention, application control, ATP, Web filtering, explicit proxy and UTM.
“We have opened our professional services program to several Gold and Silver tier-2 partners. Earlier the opportunities were available only to select tier-1 partners”
Context-aware security and intelligent security solutions which give administrators deeper insight into historic or real-time network activities are also in demand.
Virtualized security solutions are in demand especially because organizations are expanding their data centers for managed services and cloud computing.
How are you preparing partners for these opportunities?
For our 200 authorized partners— who consist of enterprise and SMB partners— our focus this year is to motivate them to achieve specializations and certifications for new technologies and products. For this we have created a special incentive program under which we offer 10 percent flat incentive to our certified partners on every project they execute.
We want to help these partners specialize in one or more Fortinet solutions, that is, wireless, Web applications and email security. For this we have calendarized our quarterly technical and sales meetings in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Pune.
We have opened up our professional services program—which was earlier available only to select tier-1 partners—to several Gold and Silver tier-2 partners to ensure high profitability and strong customer connect. By using our security operations center, these partners, after due certification, will offer advanced professional services such as integration, enterprise migration, IPv6 migration and networking audits. We are looking at certifying 30 authorized partners for professional services, and we will share leads with them according to their competency and certifications.
For that we have launched extensive training for the systems engineers of partners, and have signed up Data Cipher as our training partner.
What are your other growth plans?
Apart from building depth among our leading partners, we are focused on expanding our base of registered partners in geographies where we don’t have a strong presence. As a start, we have recruited 2-3 partners each in J&K, Chandigarh, HP and Puducherry.
We have also introduced a new partner tier called Bronze Plus for many of our registered partners who
are doing well. Under this new program, our aim is to increase our engagement with these partners and help them grow their business. We are providing them leads, and engaging with them on a quarterly basis for training, opportunity mapping and sales planning.
We are offering integration and deployment services for many registered resellers in tier-2 cities who do not have technical expertise in advanced technologies. Once these partners lock the opportunity, our technical team steps in to help with deployment and integration services. For this we will also leverage our network of professional services partners.
What are the other initiatives you have taken to improve your channel GTM?
One initiative that will help both partners and customers is the new RMA program whereby our distributors—Ingram and Redington—will provide RMA services from their branches. This will ensure faster turnaround for replacement and repairs; in many cities it will be next business day. We have also set up a local toll-free number to facilitate post-sales service.
The other important initiative is launching an online renewal asset tracking tool which reminds partners of the renewal timelines of their customers. We expect this to increase the renewal rates of services contracts and thus increase the annual services revenue of partners.
“I want to clarify that the automated deal registration tool is active on the partner portal and can be accessed by all partners. We are now making efforts to popularize it”
We have also launched a mobile app which allows partners to access product information and threat research updates on their smartphones. In addition, it enables partners to size up the customer’s demand and bundle products as per their requirements.
Fortinet has been receiving a lot of flak for the lacunae in its deal registration system.
I agree that partners have raised some concerns regarding deal registration and the resulting conflicts with their business development managers.
Although the automated deal registration tool was launched about three years ago not many partners are aware of it.
I want to clarify that the tool is very much active on the partner portal and can be accessed by all partners. We are now making efforts to popularize it and are encouraging partners to utilize it optimally. We will also be launching attractive promotions to encourage partners to register deals.