Fortinet Refines MSSP Program For Broader Reach

Fortinet is introducing changes to its managed security services program, unveiling a financing model that it says should appeal to small firms with less experience delivering managed services.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based network security vendor said its program now offers a preferred pricing structure, financing and distribution program for MSSPs to better support an operational expenditure OpEx model for firms delivering Fortinet security appliances as a service with monthly billing. The previous model was an inhibitor to fledgling businesses attempting to realize revenue while making the transition to managed services, said Stephen Tallent, Fortinet's director of MSSP.

"We're seeing a lot of IT integrators adding managed security services and some other new partners in droves but they don't want to incur capital expenditures," Tallent said. "In the current economic environment, the whole OpEx model is much more cost-effective."

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In addition, the company is bolstering the support it gives new service providers with cloud starter kits for management and reporting infrastructure. Training courses will help new firms get MSSP programs off the ground, Tallent said. The company also has introduced an MSSP Cookbook, toolkit and library that can be referenced to ensure operations are managed correctly.

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For nearly the last decade, resellers have been transforming themselves into managed security service providers as small and midsize businesses seek help with data security and compliance initiatives. Emerging MSSPs are growing their businesses at a rate of 30 percent to 40 percent a year through cloud-based delivery of security services, according to a recent analysis conducted by Boston-based Forrester Research. Firms are differentiating themselves by specializing in services or delivering a mixture of cloud, software and hardware-as-a-service, Forrester said.

Reducing capital expenditures by simplifying discounting for MSSPs enables partners to make a cloud infrastructure investment and helps MSSPs meet demand and maintain margins, according to Tallent.

High-profile data breaches of customer data and an increased focus on targeted attacks designed to steal intellectual property have fueled concern for better security measures from antimalware and network monitoring to data loss prevention and encryption, said Ben Potaracke, director of information technology at Lacrosse, Wis.-based Locknet, a division of EO Johnson.

"There's a lot of port scanning going on and then they come back and launch attacks," said Potaracke, who manages the firm's IT security team.

Locknet, a Fortinet partner, provides firewall management, antimalware, mail encryption and spam filtering services. The firm recently introduced its own mobile security service, helping firms use Exchange ActiveSync to extend corporate security policies on employee mobile devices.

This is the second time that Fortinet revamped its MSSP program. In 2010, the company unveiled FortiInfluencer, which focused on marketing and promotional materials for MSSPs.

Fortinet's new MSSP program consists of Platinum and Gold tiers. To qualify as a Platinum provider, firms must have two Fortinet-certified network security professionals on staff, conduct a third-party MSP audit and run a 24x7 security operations center. Gold-tier providers are required to have one Fortinet-certified pro and a 8x5 security operations center.

In addition to standard training, MSSPs must take troubleshooting courses for the FortiAnalyzer and FortiManager appliances. Existing MSSPs can be grandfathered into the new program. Star partners become Platinum, and Premier-level partners become Gold, the firm said.