New Sourcefire Certifications Can Be Margin-Boosting Play For Partners12:25 PM EST Mon. Mar. 18, 2013
Sourcefire is making subtle changes to its channel program, reaching out to MSPs and other partners with new certifications to help them sell additional support and management services.
The Columbia, Md.-based network security appliance maker said its program is designed to train sales engineers and other professional services employees on deployment, implementation and ongoing management of the Sourcefire appliance. Classes and certification programs build value for both Sourcefire and the partner, giving partners the opportunity to sell their own support and maintenance services, said Sourcefire channel chief Chris Peterson. Individuals are awarded points based on the training they take, and the partner receives increased compensation.
"By having certified resources, the opportunity is there for additional margin for the partner," said Peterson, who serves as senior vice president of worldwide channels, services and support.
Sourcefire launched its Security Channel Program in 2010 and since then the channel has grown to account for 99 percent of the company's sales. Sourcefire found partners for the few direct accounts it had been maintaining, Peterson said.
Many of the changes Sourcefire has made to its program over the past year are the result of ongoing discussions with partners, Peterson said. The company further discounted some of its products to be more price-aggressive and help partners win deals. Sourcefire is also working with channel partners to identify net new customer accounts, Peterson said. Quarterly reviews and account mapping sessions with partners have been added to help identify good candidates for the vendor. Any net new accounts registered by the partner will receive additional margins under the program.
Sourcefire competes with Check Point Software Technologies, Fortinet, Juniper Networks and Palo Alto Networks in the network security space. The company has been aggressively pushing its Advanced Malware Protection IPS appliance built on its FirePower platform for next-generation firewall capabilities. In addition to blocking and continuous file analysis, an alerting feature notifies users of malicious files entering their environment even when they previously were classified as safe. The appliance can be licensed to function with Sourcefire's IPS and next-generation firewall devices and includes 100 seats of its cloud-based FireAMP endpoint malware protection.
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Peterson has his roots in the channel, working for many years at Compaq and then turning to manage worldwide sales at McAfee and SIEM appliance vendor ArcSight, which is now part of Hewlett-Packard.
"I have learned that if you want to be successful in this industry you have to do business with folks that have been building out the customer's networks, recommending products and providing professional services and education of these customers for a long time," Peterson said.
In addition to certification and training, Peterson said Sourcefire is making a significant investment in channel marketing, doubling the number of people to boost network security sales in the Global 2000 account base, with event-based marketing, Peterson said.
Sourcefire has a standard Silver, Gold and Platinum tier-level channel program and partners can work up those tiers based on certification and sales volumes. Deals can be registered by the partner that has the relationship with the account that Sourcefire is targeting, Peterson said. The partner that registers the deal, closes the deal, he said.
Sourcefire has excelled at providing information about its product road map and strategy to partners, said Brian Stoner, vice president of corporate business development at Omaha, Neb.-based managed security service provider Solutionary. Stoner, who manages Solutionary's partner alliances, said Sourcefire has taken the lead in both training and educating its partners.
"I think many vendors are starting to realize that the big VARs that bring in the big revenue aren't necessarily the guys who manage the solution," Stoner said. "Sourcefire has been innovative in coming up with programs and outreach to MSPs like Solutionary."
PUBLISHED MARCH 18, 2013