Partners: Dell Addressing Huge Opportunity With Wireless Firewall Upgrades

Following up on the release last spring of its newest SonicWALL TZ firewall, Dell Security is introducing a new version that partners said addresses significant pent-up demand for wireless upgrades.

Dmitriy Ayrapetov, Dell Security's director of product management, told CRN the wireless TZ's integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi comes at exactly the right moment for business customers.

"If we did this three years ago, it would've been interesting," Ayrapetov said, "but now it's especially interesting. There's pent-up demand for 802.11ac, which is a major uptick from 802.11n." Customers, Ayrapetov said, are approaching Dell Security channel partners asking for the wireless upgrade.

[Related: Dell Unleashes Major SonicWall Firewall Release]

David Wrenn, vice president of sales at Dell partner Advanced Office Systems in Branford, Conn., told CRN that bring-your-own-device arrangements are accelerating the demand for upgraded Wi-Fi.

"We've been seeing a fair amount of people who need it in their environment because of BYOD, mostly," Wrenn said. "That's one of the biggest drivers of this. Hospitality, education, social clubs, meeting facilities, they need good Wi-Fi in their buildings. They have people in meetings, hotel rooms, function rooms, the pool."

All that moving around exposes weaknesses in any facility's Wi-Fi pretty quickly, Wrenn said, and customers have been clamoring for 802.11ac upgrades.

"Good Wi-Fi is hard to come by sometimes. Sometimes [a customer's existing] technology can't handle the numbers of connections, can't handle the interference from other devices out there," Wrenn said. "So, wireless ac is built to better handle the numbers, better handle the interference."

In April, Dell took aim at key competitors like Cisco, Check Point, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks with the release of the first major upgrade to its SonicWALL TZ series firewall in nearly six years.

With the wireless version, Dell is providing the same upgrade discounts for existing customers and additional margin incentives for partners on those deals.

For example, Dell Security solution providers will receive an additional 10 points of margin when they register SonicWALL TZ sales. Partners who sell the TZ to new customers will receive an additional 5 percent margin.

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"It facilitates a need, it's a great idea for the all-in-one box, and it does give Dell a great advantage in the marketplace," said Michael Crean, president of Woodbridge, Va.-based Dell partner Solutions Granted.

The challenge for partners, however, is helping customers realize the capabilities and limitations of these systems in the face of a rapidly changing and growing business environment.

"In a small office scenario, it's awesome," Crean told CRN, but as customers grow and expand, they may not be prepared for the difficulties that presents to their wireless firewall.

"Wireless demands are growing exponentially. Customers are expanding footprint, and it's very hard to educate customers."