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CRN Exclusive: SonicWall Exceeds Growth Goals, Partner Expectations After Split From Dell

A year after the company announced its private equity-driven split from Dell, network security vendor SonicWall said it has already exceeded its growth goals.

A year after the company announced its private equity-driven split from Dell, network security vendor SonicWall said it has already exceeded its growth goals.

SonicWall said it has surpassed the "aggressive financial and operational metrics" it set for its first eight months as an independent company. In an exclusive interview with CRN, CEO Bill Conner said that growth was driven by the company's partner strategy, focus on technology innovation, a growing threat landscape, and an overhaul of the company's service strategy.

"Everything is going extremely well," Conner said. "We have miles to go before we sleep, but if you look across the business it's just performing financially and operationally much better than what we had expected." SonicWall doesn't have to disclose exact growth numbers because it is a privately held company.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: SonicWall Hires Former VMware Exec As First Chief Security Officer]

The update comes just eight months after SonicWall finalized its split from former parent company Dell. SonicWall announced a year ago in June that it had been sold to Francisco Partners and Elliott Management as part of its sale of the Dell Software Group. SonicWall appointed Conner as CEO when the deal closed in November.

A key factor in that growth has been the company's 100 percent channel strategy, Vice President of Worldwide Sales Steve Pataky said. SonicWall said it has had more than 15,000 partners register for its SecureFirst partner program since it launched, including 4,000 partners new to SonicWall. Those partners have completed more than 10,000 hours of training and 19,000 exams through the company's SonicWall University. The company has also seen a 50 percent growth in partner deal registrations, adding up to more than $250 million in new sales pipeline.

In an interview with CRN, Pataky said that growth is the result of the company's "sustaining investments" in the channel, including a 100-percent commitment to a partner go-to-market model and investments in partner infrastructure, a new partner database, partner portal, SonicWall University training, and more.

"All of the different elements are starting to come together," Pataky said. "These aren't one and done initiatives. You have to commit to them and sustain the investment … This is not a blip. It's a sustaining thing because we made this sustaining investment. Partners vote with their pen and their dollars … They have had as much confidence in SonicWall as we have had in them and that's where we want to be."

Partners said they are also seeing significant growth with SonicWall. Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based LAN Infotech, said he has seen very strong growth with SonicWall since its split from Dell. A long-time SonicWall partner, Goldstein said investments in marketing and technology innovation have driven further growth for his business as a partner.

"SonicWall has been really good to us," Goldstein said. "It's good to see those [growth numbers]. Hard work pays off."

Julie Neely, president of Napa, Calif.-based Napa Valley Networks, said she has seen an "uptick in our sales and interaction with our new sales team" and taken advantage of new resources to drive sales over the past eight months. She said the company is also getting new leads and marketing assistance "that we didn't see before."

"We were promised additional support and resources when SonicWALL initially announced their changes and our new sales team has exceeded our hopes! We are extremely pleased with the transition and are looking forward to more growth with SonicWall," Neely said.

Pataky said SonicWall has worked to balance a "respect for the past," with a 25-year history as both an independent company and under Dell, with "doing the right thing for the next generation" of the company. He said partners see a now independent SonicWall as a "rebirth" of the company, driving high rates of adoption of the company's security solution.

Pataky said SonicWall is now looking to take that channel vision globally with expansions into Europe and other global markets. He said SonicWall is also looking to expand its distribution relationships, which he said will benefit from its standalone security focus.

Conner said SonicWall has added to that "excitement early on" with a focus on technology innovation, most notably its Capture advanced threat protection service, and improved support and field enablement. He said the company has embraced a "startup" culture, with engineers passionate to stay late and work on the company's technology and even the occasional beer event.

LAN Infotech's Goldstein said that technology innovation has been a key growth driver for his business. He said his company has seen a "tremendous" amount of demand for the new Capture solution. He said the launch of the new cloud-based Global Management System also is "something new we were all looking for."

Both Conner and Pataky said the key to continuing this growth momentum is consistency and execution.

"To much is given, much is expected," Conner said. "We are just going to keep doing the same thing."

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