WatchGuard Unveils New Managed Service Program

Above all, Watchguard executives maintained that the new MSSP program, announced Tuesday but set for official roll out Thursday, addresses recession needs, coming at a time when businesses are increasingly looking to cut costs, trim budgets locally outsource security functions amid the economic downturn.

"It looked like the opportune time to release this new program," said Mark Romano, WatchGuard director of global channel marketing.

While the economy was a driver, WatchGuard executives maintained that more customers are relying on managed services to help them with stringent compliance regulations which often require numerous security functions, many of which the customer can't alone provide. Instead, many smaller companies prefer to offload those compliance functions onto a third-party service provider. Another driver for the new program has to do with the severity and intensity of security threats, Romano said. "They've evolved over the last 10 or 15 years to the point where they're able to do structural changes once they exist in a network," he said, adding that managed services can more comprehensively detect and address increasingly sophisticated malware attacks.

Accompanying the launch of the new MSSP program is a new remote management security feature integrated into WatchGuard's new Fireware XTM-based multifunction security appliances, which allows WatchGuard's partners to remotely manage and monitor customers' IT environments and reduce security risks for multiple clients.

Sponsored post

The embedded security features enables customers to select a customized IT security environment by providing any combination of advanced firewall, intrusion prevention, secure virtual private networking for remote workers, Web blocking and URL filtering services, spam protection and anti-virus, among others. Partners can then offer additional services, such as consulting, auditing and penetration testing, compliance management for PCI DSS, HIPAA, Sarbanes Oxley, as well as other compliance regulations.

The MSSP program was developed, in part, with partner feedback, executives say.

One of the most significant updates to the MSSP program includes a change allowing MSSP-certified partners to do their own return authorizations on products in the field. If a box needs to be replaced, partners can go through the WatchGuard, which will immediately send another box to get up and running, which ultimately will reduce replacement costs for the partners, Romano said.

"We're essentially taking WatchGuard out of it," Romano said.

The new MSSP program also allows WatchGuard partners to defer costs over time, executives say, which enables them to provide managed services immediately to their customers without having to be responsible for significant upfront capital costs. WatchGuard partners can purchase the appliance outright, lease it, or deploy it into their customer base and pay for it on a monthly basis. This way, partners can align their financing models with those of their customers', Romano said.

"It allows them to keep capital in the bank,' he said."They don't have to buy the product outright and the two business models match each other."