Fortinet Targets CheckPoint With Displacement Promotion

Fortinet is aiming to take rival CheckPoint down a notch with a trade-in program aimed at getting CheckPoint VARs to dump CheckPoint products in favor of Fortinet security appliances.

A Fortinet partner document obtained by CRN that was sent to partners over the weekend offers Fortinet partners displacing CheckPoint equipment a 50 percent discount on Forti-Gate-100A all the way up to FortiGate-5000 product family bundles from now until Sept. 30. The offer also includes a free FortiWiFi-60B NFR (Not For Resale) appliance and a $500 SPIFF for the sales rep closing the deal. The minimum deal sales requirement for the promotion is $10,000.

"Sick of feeling addicted to your CheckPoint renewal?" reads the partner document, which includes a circled CheckPoint logo with a slash across it. "Want to sell your customers a better solution but can't control your (renewal) dependency? Now you can! For a limited time, Fortinet is offering a fool-proof way to kick that habit to the curb. Offer your customers the industry's leading UTM (Unified Threat Management) solution and still make the money you've come to depend on."

In an interview at the CMP XChange 07 Conference, Fortinet Vice President of Channel Sales Michael Valentine would not comment on the specifics of the promotion but acknowledged that Fortinet is aiming to grow its business by displacing CheckPoint. "They (CheckPoint) are the gazelle at the back of the herd," said Valentine. "They've got the end user base I want. We have got (CheckPoint) VARs that want to work with us and a (FortiGate) product line that can absolutely crush them. We are working fast and furious and they are very vulnerable right now."

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Valentine said he sees CheckPoint VARs actively searching for alternatives. "They are seeing the writing on the wall," he said. "If a VAR is trying to base their business on what CheckPoint is doing they are going to lose ground in the marketplace."

The no holds barred promotion is just one of many signs that Valentine, who joined Fortinet only three months ago after leading an aggressive channel charge at SonicWall, is determined to raise Fortinet's channel profile. Fortinet currently has about 500 active partners, but is aiming to bring on a new wave of partners from small business-focused VARs to seasoned security service providers, said Valentine. "We need more higher end and lower end partners," he said.

Valentine said he is also currently in the early stages of looking at revamping the Fortinet program with new sales goals for its tiered partner program. What's more, he said, he's determined to make sure Fortinet's "preferential pricing" deal registration program protects partners so they are not priced out of the game at the last minute by an aggressive price quote from a direct marketer like CDW. "A VAR will only get scooped once like that," said Valentine.

NEXT: CheckPoint Responds

Brendan McGann, CheckPoint security sales engineer for North American Distribution, called the Fortinet promotion a desperate attempt to try to "trash" CheckPoint's superior products and loyal channel partners. "We invented the firewall and hold all the current patents on it," he said. "We hold all the patents on packet inspection and malicious code detection. We inspect 154 protocols and Fortinet does 53. We are the only pure security company out there."

McGann pointed out that trade-in allowances centered on CheckPoint are not unusual given CheckPoint's leadership position. One key difference, he said, between Fortinet and CheckPoint is that CheckPoint software licenses are transferable to another device, while Fortinet licenses have to be replaced after several years. The CheckPoint offering allows VARs flexible licensing and pricing to pick and choose just how they want to go to market, said McGann.

McGann said that CheckPoint's technology leadership is unmatched given that its products are used in 99 percent of the Fortune 500 and 100 percent of the Global 500. "I worked in the past for Cisco and Nortel," he said. "I came to CheckPoint because of its technology. Fortinet is one of the better wannabes, but it is not a CheckPoint. Their technology is substandard. We don't have to talk trash."

Jim Bakic, director of business development for Midwest Strategic IT, a Dousman, Wis., Fortinet managed services security partner, said he added CheckPoint to his line card earlier this year after experiencing some performance issues on the FortiGate 50 and 60 appliances. What's more, he said he experienced some performance issues with all the services turned on on a FortiGate 100A that was being used for heavy internet usage.

After meeting with CheckPoint at the XChange conference earlier this year, Bakic said he received a CheckPoint device to see if it could live up the claims made by CheckPoint. "I took it to my worst customer, a school district doing online video and heavy internet usage," he said. "I took out the FortiGate100A and put in the (CheckPoint) Safe@Office500W, turned on all the services and all the performance problems on the network immediately ceased. I was very impressed by the performance of the CheckPoint box. Because of that we decided to sign up as a CheckPoint partner in June. We are starting to use the CheckPoint products for our customers that have less than 100 seats. For customers over 100 seats we still use Fortinet." Since Midwest Strategic IT added CheckPoint, Bakic said Fortinet has since come out with upgraded FortiGate 50s and 60s that he has yet to evaluate.

Vince Tinnirello, president of Anchor Network Solutions Inc., a Lone Tree Colorado solution provider that partners with SonicWall, was at the XChange 07 showing looking for more information about CheckPoint. "Competition is good," he said. "I'm interested in seeing what CheckPoint has available. In my opinion, SonicWall has pummeled everyone in the last several years. SonicWall makes a good product. I'm not unhappy, but I always want to see what's out there. I'm not doing a service to my customers if I'm not out looking for better products at better prices. My job is getting them the best product. They trust us to go out and find the right products for them. It is all about trust."