Fortinet Americas Channel Chief Retools Training Program

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Network security vendor Fortinet said channel marketing veteran and entrepreneur Joe Sykora has assumed channel responsibilities at the company and is overseeing the implementation of a number of changes, including bolstering training and support activities.

Sykora, who previously served as senior director of Americas marketing at Fortinet, led field and lead- generation activities. He assumed the role of vice president Americas sales operations and national channels last year following the departure of Michael Valentine, and other sales and channel executives, to rival endpoint security and unified threat management vendor Sophos.

Sykora ran a security consultancy, IT virtualization and hosting businesses, and was a Fortinet partner for more than a decade during that time. A member of the company's partner advisory council, he chaired the subcommittee for marketing and solutions and said he had very close ties with Fortinet's executive team before being recruited to work at the vendor in 2010.

[Related: Fortinet Channel Chief To Partners: We're Much More Than Firewall Appliances]

"I am dedicated to the enablement of our partners because I've been there," Sykora said. "I believe in the power of the relationships that our partners have with their customers."

Fortinet is fighting Sophos in court alleging that Valentine and other executives violated noncompete agreements. Sophos' lawyers, meanwhile, have countersued alleging patent violations. Sophos, which started in the endpoint security software market, is eyeing growth in North America following its acquisition of UTM maker Astaro in 2011. The company is competing against Check Point, Fortinet, Dell-SonicWall, WatchGuard and other firms for a share of the SMB market with its networking appliances.

The disruption caused by the executive departures may have irked some Fortinet partners, who are evaluating other UTM competitors, including Sophos. Gil Buthlay, president of BEK, a Fortinet partner based in Brunswick, Maine, said he thinks Fortinet has lost its presence in his area. Buthlay said his company likes FortiMail, Fortinet's secure email gateway, however, it is sticking with Dell-SonicWall due to the size of his firm's client install base.

"[Fortinet] kind of drifted and, unfortunately, as a small-business owner drifting is not a good thing to us," Buthlay said.

NEXT: Many Partners Staying Put, Says Fortinet

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