Dell Security Chief: SonicWall Trounces Cisco On Price, Performance And Ease of Use

The new head of Dell Security Solutions isn't pulling any punches as he steps into the enterprise security ring with Cisco Systems.

Curtis Hutcheson, who was recently named vice president and general manager of Dell Security Solutions, said Cisco's security solutions cost at least three times more than comparable Dell offerings, and tend to be complex and difficult to manage.

The price difference between Dell SonicWall solutions and Cisco was perhaps Hutcheson's most powerful point of attack. He pitted Dell SonicWall's new TZ400 against the Cisco ASA 5506, comparing them on a three-year basis with all licensing.

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"You're looking at around $6,000 for the Cisco ASA 5506-X with FirePower and support, whereas we are offering the TZ400 for around $1,995, which includes full support and services licensing," Hutcheson said in an interview with CRN. "For any business, that's a significant cost difference."

And Hutcheson claims the price and performance advantages don't stop there. In fact, he said they "become even more apparent at the high end." He said Dell sales teams can undercut the Cisco ASA 5585-X with all required modules and licenses by 50 percent with equivalent Dell firewalls.

In a recent head-to-head proposal against Cisco, Hutcheson said Dell's security solution came in at 50 percent less, which amounted to a savings of $500,000 for the customer.

Cisco declined to respond to Hutcheson's comments.

Hutcheson said his team is seeing "tremendous confusion" in the sales trenches surrounding Cisco security solutions configuration and licensing. He said Dell's single system and license security offering "beats Cisco hands-down."

Hutcheson told CRN that Dell's "disruptive value" is putting Cisco to shame. "It's a great networking company, but it's also a very expensive networking company, and customers face monumental costs just to maintain what they have," he said. "We're a company that's focused on innovation. We're focused on disruptive value. I don't have a legacy business model to protect. Our design point is midmarket. We don't believe that only the best 100 banks in the world and the top 1,000 customers in the world should have world-class security. Every enterprise needs world-class security, and we can provide the economic model to do that and make it affordable for them."

The price differences highlighted by Hutcheson are possible because Dell SonicWall's solution is simpler than Cisco's, according to Dmitriy Ayrapetov, director of product management for Dell Network Security.

For example, Dell offers a single, integrated appliance that includes all firewall capabilities. Cisco requires hardware modules to activate different capabilities across the ASA chassis. Dell's product range is consistent across the board, while Cisco's is segregated between low-end, midrange and high-end firewalls.

Sam Sandusky, president and CEO of Tampa, Fla.,-based DellSonicWall partner Big Sur Technologies, said there are certainly technical advantages to Dell SonicWall compared to Cisco's solutions, but that's not what his customers want to hear about.

"People are more interested in value," Sandusky said. "They don't want to hear too much about the technical stuff. We're the ones making decisions for the customer, and we have to set standards like a CIO would."

Dell SonicWall's pricing is better, and its solution is simpler without compromising performance, Sandusky said. "Dell came out with a managed firewall as a service, and that met a specific need that was not being met. When something comes wrapped in a program, it makes it that much easier to sell it. It's more readily available updates, all the firmware is there. It's more of a program, and we're being paid to keep it updated."

"Our order teams want to pull their hair out when they're ordering Cisco," Sandusky said. "You've got to pay more for it because of the complexity."

David Wrenn, owner of Branford, Conn.,-based Dell Partner Advanced Office Systems, said the Dell SonicWall solution is simply easier to explain, configure and manage for customers than Cisco solutions.

Wrenn said he's seen Dell SonicWall and Cisco "bump heads" in some deals, but said Dell's simplicity offers partners a clear advantage.

"SonicWall is a lot easier to manage and configure than a Cisco product," Wrenn said. "The advantage is when we're working with a customer, we tell them that this is a product we know intimately. We know how it works, and it will work well in your environment and we can support it."

Wrenn said Cisco's newer firewalls have made progress and are better than they were previously, but it's too little too late. "For us, we know the [Dell SonicWall] product very, very well. With that confidence, we're selling us, not necessarily the product."


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