Dell Exec: SonicWall Will Be 'All About The Channel' After Sale To Private Equity

Dell SonicWall's sale to private equity will allow the network security division to be more channel-friendly than ever before, said a company executive Sunday to solution providers attending 2016 XChange University IT Security.

"As we separate from Dell, you will see some amazing things because it's all about the channel," said Chris Auger, executive director, North America network security, at Dell during a presentation at the conference, being held this week in San Antonio. XChange is hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

Dell announced in June that it would sell its software division to private equity firm Francisco Partners and the private equity arm of activist hedge fund Elliott Management, reportedly for more than $2 billion. The separation had been in the works for more than 17 months, Auger said, and will allow Dell Software, including Dell SonicWall, to increase its focus on partners and drive a channel strategy focused on simplicity and partner profitability.

[Related: Partners Not Worried About Dell Deal To Resell SonicWall After Private Equity Sale]

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"When the separation occurs, we are a 100 percent channel organization. We don't have the ability to actually book things directly ... We become a channel-centric organization in everything we do," Auger said.

That includes leveraging Dell as a large reseller partner, Auger said, similar to how it might leverage companies such as CDW or Insight. Dell SonicWall has already established an OEM agreement with Dell to sell and support its network security solutions as a VAR.

This is exactly the approach that partners hoped the vendor would take when the sale was announced in June. Partners at that time told CRN SonicWall's "best years" and "most aggressive" market presence were as a private company. They said the sale should allow SonicWall to be more "nimble," work better with partners and be more strategic.

Auger said the Americas channel strategy for SonicWall going forward will focus on "getting back to basics" with partners. That will involve a focus on three key areas: solution completeness, operational efficiency and competitive differentiation, he said.

For solution completeness, Auger said SonicWall will look to spread the word about the products it offers beyond SMB-focused firewalls, the technology it is best known for. That includes its high-end firewalls, advanced threat protection, secure email, and more, he said. For partners, that breadth of offerings is key because it translates to increased profitability, differentiation and services, he said.

"It's all about helping the channel community drive greater profitability and growth in all we do," Auger said.

Auger said SonicWall will also focus on driving operational efficiency. That includes a focus on security-as-a-service solutions, which is the fastest growing part of the company's North American business at 400 percent. The company is also rolling out a hosted Global Management System in winter 2016 for cloud management of SonicWall firewalls. That rollout will eliminate the barrier to entry of on-premise firewall management, he said.

Dell will also roll out a new partner portal, expected in fall 2016, with revamped deal registration, onboarding process, and tiers, Auger said. SonicWall distribution has also been moved under its North American sales division, instead of through the overall Dell organization, he said. These changes are designed to speed up the company's operations with partners and drive operational efficiencies, he said.

Finally, Auger said SonicWall will focus on building its competitive differentiation and vertical targeting. That includes building out its advanced threat protection subscription service, its Swarm application risk management offering and content filtering, he said.