Vernier Looks For Banner Year In &'06

Vernier is investing 10 percent of its overall revenue in channel-specific programs for 2006, said Sankar Venkatraman, director of Vernier&'s worldwide channel marketing. Some of those programs are aimed at educating potential customers through vehicles such as Webinars and trade shows, and Vernier believes that the burden of informing the market should not lie on the partner, Venkatraman said.

“We think educating the market is the responsibility of the vendor,” Venkatraman said.

With about 90 percent of sales through the channel, Vernier is solely focused on the opportunities of the growing market for NAC, said CEO Simon Khalaf.

“We are never going to build a direct sales force,” he said.

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Other security vendors are banking on the market opportunities for NAC. At this year&'s RSA security conference in San Jose, Calif., several large security vendors, including Santa Clara, Calif.-based McAfee and Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec, highlighted new products specifically addressing NAC.

According to Gartner research, by the end of 2007, 80 percent of enterprises are expected to have implemented NAC policies and procedures.

NAC is important because the biggest problem that enterprise networks face today with security is making sure that so-called road warriors who take laptops home or on business trips don't bring those computers back onto the network infected with some sort of malware, Khalaf said. And the data that resides on networks is becoming even more valuable as organizations such as schools and universities are storing more and more information on their networks, Khalaf said.

The privately held company, however, doesn&'t have the deep pockets for the kind of marketing that much larger vendors are using to educate the market about the importance of NAC, but that may not be a problem, said Steven Stasiukonis, founder of security solution provider Secure Network Technologies, Syracuse, N.Y.

“It&'s tough—they have a limited budget and can&'t be as evangelical as Cisco can,” Stasiukonis said. But with Cisco preaching the message of NAC, Vernier can “ride the coattails of Cisco&'s marketing message,” he said. Other VARs agreed.

Norman Menz, managing member of Bridgewater, N.J.-based solution provider Prevalent Networks, said that with a company as big as Cisco talking about NAC, the message to the marketplace becomes much clearer, paving the way for Vernier to offer the right solution.

“Cisco is telling their [Vernier] story for them, but they [Cisco] don&'t have a product yet,” Menz said.

To help expand Vernier&'s presence in the channel, it is planning on recruiting at least 15 new partners by the end of this year, bringing the total number of partners to 100, Venkatraman said.

But it is making sure not to have any more than two flagship partners in any large metro area so partners aren&'t competing with each other, he said. Vernier also is adding three more channel managers. To help with partner recruiting, Vernier has hired salespeople that used to be VARs. This is very important because former VARs know what channel partners need to sell their products, Venkatraman said.

“You have to have salespeople from the channels,” Venkatraman said. “Our resellers can benefit from their experience.”

Dan Riekes, vice president of operations for Affidia Systems, an Encino, Calif.-based solution provider, said that Vernier does a good job of working closely with partners.

“They want to make their products better by listening to what we have to say,” Riekes said. “They understand the channel business and what the challenges are.”