Fortinet Revamps Partner Program, Adding New Partner Level And Certification

Fortinet unveiled a revamped partner program Thursday, adding a new level to the program and launching a network security certification -- changes it says will result in a more focused program and dedicated resources for partners.

The new global structure expands the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's previously three-tiered program to four tiers: platinum, gold, silver and authorized partners. The levels include VARs, system integrators, corporate resellers and managed security service providers.

The addition of the authorized partner level, the network security vendor's new lowest tier, is designed to help the vendor more equitably distribute its resources to partners in higher tiers who have demonstrated a commitment to Fortinet, Joe Sykora, vice president of channels and operations, said in an interview with CRN. Those resources available include marketing, technical support, training, business planning and more.

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"It's all about being more dedicated," Sykora said.

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To add to that focus, the company also disclosed that it had invested in dedicated channel account managers for each partner.

"Between that [investment] and marketing, we’re showing the channel we're growing," Sykora said. "We want [our partners] to grow with us and we're willing to put our money where our mouth is."

Fortinet also officially trumpeted the launch of its Network Security Expert (NSE) program, which was unveiled last year and rolled out in January. The free training program, available to all partners, is an eight-level program designed to drive a deep expertise in network security across Fortinet's partner base -- something Sykora said would ultimately drive more sales for both parties.

"This is huge, because a lot of our competition is still charging for training," Sykora said. "We take the stance that a more educated partner is the best marketing resource we can create."

Fortinet said more than 2,000 partners, out of a total of 10,000 partners, have signed up and begun the NSE training program.

Glenn Davis, director of enterprise solutions group at Somerset, N.J.-based SHI, said he has seen Fortinet commit an "impressive" amount of resources to the company, and sees this new partner program, training and investments as another example of that growing partnership.

As the company goes head-to-head against competitors such as Palo Alto Networks and Check Point Software Technologies, Davis said, he admires how eager Fortinet is to work with and invest in growing its channel.

"We do have hundreds of partners, and it's kind of refreshing to see a partner commit to us in hopes of developing a partnership," Davis said.