Some irked partners of WatchGuard Technologies are beginning to lose their patience with the unified threat management vendor.
At issue are problems being discovered with WatchGuard's Fireware Pro appliance and the version 8 series software that runs on it, partners trying to work with the Seattle, Wash., vendor said on conditions on anonymity. Other WatchGuard partners have complained that internal problems with WatchGuard related to the vendor's efforts to convert from a publicly traded company to a private one are making the vendor difficult to work with.
WatchGuard officials told CRN that to a minor extent some of what these partners have been complaining about is true.
Repeated problems with Fireware Pro version 8.0, 8.1, and 8.2, which continued for over a year, nearly cost one WatchGuard partner a valued account, the partner said. Much of the problems had to do with failover functions introduced in the version 8 series that the customer had specifically wanted up and running, the partner said. The product was unstable, and when the partner approached WatchGuard a few months ago for technical support, he was told a fix was on the way in a later version and that the best thing to do in the interim would be to back down to a version 7 series operating system.
"The sales representative literally told me 'even if you know you need (a version 8 system), and you have to put it in, I wouldn't do it'," the partner said.
Joe Peck, senior product manager at WatchGuard, said version 8.3 of Fireware Pro, unveiled June 22, addresses problems with the product. As far as failover is concerned, previous versions "only looked at link status" to determine if failover should be triggered, and had no IP address to ping to determine if something had occurred like a WAN circuit outage. "Now we have an IP address to ping rather than just link status," he said, adding also that the spam blocker of previous version "wasn't up to snuff."
WatchGuard is also looking to add full policy-based routing in future versions of the product in order to avoid problems like having an active VPN failover onto an open, unprotected WAN, he said.
Version 8.3 is headed into the hands of partners right now, and several of these partners who spoke to CRN said they were told by the vendor that the new version addressed a variety of bugs. Some partners who told CRN they have had little trouble with the Fireware Pro product said they had not been using the failover features.
Compliance issues have made WatchGuard too paranoid as a public company and uncooperative when it comes to providing certain product resources for testing and demonstration, a long-time partner in the Midwest said.
"I'm counting the days until they go private," the partner said.
A second partner also said concern about compliance was driving WatchGuard private.
WatchGuard executives declined to discuss the details of the effort to shed shareholders and become a private company. But Scott Carlson, manager of support engineering at WatchGuard, said that because of the requirements of compliance regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, "WatchGuard can't just give away (product) licenses, because that's unreported revenue."
Carlson said WatchGuard has a number of ways for partners to get their hands of marketing tools, such as free 30 days trials of the software.
Additional reporting by Kevin McLaughlin.