SonicWall Pilots MSP Advantage Program

SonicWall is piloting a multi-pronged managed services program for its firewall solutions that is expected to be available in general release by the end of the summer.

The managed services are being developed with the help of some members of Ingram Micro's VentureTech Network organization and SonicWall expects the services to be available through Ingram Micro Cloud by the fall.

The MSP Advantage program includes a hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) component which provides SonicWall firewall devices to customers for a monthly fee. "Think about it like your cable box. We're offering it out to clients but the title remains with SonicWall. It allows you to deploy services on the box," said Vince Massey, director of North American distribution at SonicWall.

Currently, SonicWall's TZ 210 and NSA 240 appliances are being piloted but the vendor expects to expand the products available through a HaaS model, Massey said.

Sponsored post

"The goal is to get to the model where the MSP has a monthly cost to provide a full SonicWall solution to customers," he said. "Maybe there are some services that the end user doesn't need right away, like anti-spam. But in six months they might be ready and you can add it on the box."

Alan McDonald, president of AllConnected, a Simi Valley, Calif.-based MSP, said he has deployed eight firewalls while piloting the HaaS program in MSP Advantage.

"It's helped us lower the barrier to get managed security service in place. We position it to get into security with limited capital outlay," McDonald said. "It helps the MSP business to be profitable faster as we ramp up."

McDonald added that convincing prospects of 10 to 50 seats on managed security is much easier with MSP Advantage. "If they're not ready for a full managed service, we still have a great security offering with very little up front capital for them. It delivers a lot of value to them early on in the relationship."

The second component is a monthly subscription for SonicWall's Global Management System (GMS), an enablement and management tool that previously was sold only on a perpetual license.

"The goal for both [GMS and the HaaS solution] are to reduce the up-front capital expense that a partner has to do. We want to take that down to zero, and improve cash flow," Massey said.

"GMS is probably one of the best tools out there for MSPs but the cost of entry has always been a barrier for partners. It was expensive and there were a lot of pieces involved. With the ability to buy ona monthly basis on nodes you need, we see a lot better managed security [opportunity]," said Deepak Thadani, president of SysIntegrators, a Woodside, N.Y.-based MSP.

An MSP may have had to pay $5,000 to $10,000 up front for GMS but now it's available for $16 per node per month, Massey said.

Next: FlexSpend For Monthly Billing

The third element of MSP Advantage is the FlexSpend program, an internal system that allows solution providers to deploy services on a monthly basis that previously had to be purchased in one-year or multiple-year agreements. Massey compared it to an automatic bill-paying function from a bank account.

"You buy credits up front through Ingram Micro. Those credits are put into an account and you use those credits to buy services and deploy to SonicWall devices. As long as you have money in the account, you can allocate services. You can also pull credits back midmonth if a customer wants to terminate service. You can take back 15 days and allocate them back into the account," Massey said.

SysIntegrators is piloting the FlexSpend program, which provides him with more flexibility with customers. "We can put the services on a device on a monthly basis instead of a yearly term and a year from now, if a customer needs to upgrade to a larger device, it allows us to do so and not waste services on an old device. WE can put in a new device and put services on that," Thadani said.

As SonicWall puts finishing touches on the program before it's released wide, executives said they're looking to help VARs from the business side as well as the technical side. "The more we can do to provide business process improvements for MSPs, improve cash flow, reduce expenses, we think that helps differentiate ourselves," Masey said.

SonicWall has gone to great lengths to understand MSPs' business models and developed the program for them to succeed, said John Fago, senior director of channel marketing at Ingram Micro.

"It stems from a need of what these guys are going through in business. From an idea on a napkin to a full-blown offering, SonicWall has really put out a great program. It's more about the business model and taking it to market," Fago said.