Fighting On All Fronts: Fortinet To Expand Branding, Support, UTM Features

Fortinet executives said the company plans to increase its presence on multiple fronts, targeting new markets, enhancing support, and expanding its product line as a publicly traded company.

During the company's partner conference in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, Fortinet executives said the company was stepping up its sales and product strategy to target additional vertical markets, improve marketing and branding and add features into UTM devices as it rises to meet customer and investor expectations with its recent IPO.

"Now there is a huge opportunity ahead of us," said Fortinet CEO Ken XIE Wednesday to an audience of about 160 reseller and distribution partners during the conference's opening keynote. "That's where we see the potential growth for this space. It's much, much bigger than today. We're number one in UTM, but we want to expand beyond UTM."

Specifically, Fortinet will be addressing Web and application threats with features in its UTM devices such as DLP, WAN acceleration and application control, in addition to existing firewall, IPS, and VPN, antispam and antivirus capabilities.

Sponsored post

The expansion addresses an emerging wave of new sophisticated Web-based threats targeting data and intellectual property, executives say.

"We want to address the new threats. In the security space there are a lot of new threats that come out but the new ones don't go away," Xie said.

Fortinet executives said that its UTM devices will continue to provide increasingly high-speed performance as bandwidth intensive applications require higher levels of performance.

Meanwhile, the company aims to help transition its resellers, especially traditional product VARs, as they further adopt services-oriented business models.

Thus far, the company has put about two-thirds of its resources into R&D. But looking ahead, the company plans to put more effort into marketing and branding -- an area where the company historically has been weak, partners say.

"It's a technology company. They're very engineering-focused, said Michael Demery, director of SeccomGlobal, an Australia-based MSSP. "They appear to be doing all these (infrastructure and marketing changes) but its just that they're playing catch-up."

"The IPO was helpful. It gives us better presence with our larger customers," said Ken Goldman, Fortinet chief financial officer. "We do need to increase our visibility. We do need to increase our support. It all starts with bringing great products."

Next: Fortinet Targets Enterprise Markets

The reinvigorated focus on marketing comes as the company plans to further target and increase market share in enterprise markets. Thus far, about 27 percent of the company's business is in the enterprise segment, executive say.

In an attempt to expand its enterprise presence, Fortinet will hone in on specific enterprise verticals, with a special emphasis on health-care and retail sectors, executives say. That vertical strategy includes recruiting more VARs with specialties in these areas, Valentine said.

Simultaneously, Fortinet will be expanding its SMB presence with a slew of product releases during the second half of this year.

Meanwhile, along with its expansion, Fortinet will be beefing up its support, ultimately bringing its support centers of India and housing them all within North America by the end of the quarter.

"Our relationship with the customer is going to extend past the sale, that's the approach we've taken," Valentine said. "The first (customer) experience -- it's got to be a good one."

Some partners say that while Fortinet's product quality has been "second to none," the company has lacked in support and global distribution infrastructure.

Solution providers say that Fortinet's global distribution was cumbersome due to the fact that they couldn't go through local distribution, but had to go through the company and find an international distribution office, which ultimately slowed sales and productivity.

"It would be better for us if we could just go through our local distributors," said Michael Shine, director at SeccomGlobal. "That's one ongoing issue we've had."