Vendors Put Some Muscle Behind New MSP Initiatives

Integrated network security appliance vendor Fortinet this week plans to roll out major enhancements to its managed security service provider program, a channel program specifically geared toward MSSPs.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor will customize its two-tiered MSSP program to appeal to smaller solution providers that want to offer multiple managed security services using Fortinet hardware, logging and reporting products.

The changes were set to go into effect Oct. 11. With them, according to Adam Stein, vice president of corporate marketing, the vendor is lowering barriers to entry in an attempt to bring more MSSPs into the fold.

"With a lower investment level, we're hoping we can bring in more partners to capitalize on MSP marketplace growth, particularly in financial and health-care services," he said.

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As Stein explained, the new program will have two levels: Star and Premier. Star partners, the more sophisticated of the two, will be those MSSPs that manage and operate their own network operations centers or service operations centers, and have a significant investment in network infrastructure and monitoring capabilities.

Premier partners will be smaller solution providers that wish to deploy Fortinet FortiGate units at customer locations and resell network operations center- or service operations center-based managed services from another Fortinet MSSP partner.

Stein said one feature that will benefit both tiers of partners is the fact that Fortinet charges per box, not per license as do most vendors that facilitate managed services. This innovative approach has Michael Bruck, president of BAI Security, Naperville, Ill., pretty excited. By standardizing his company's managed security service offering on the Fortinet platform, Bruck said he has significantly reduced up-front costs in new implementations.

"We are also now able to offer even more security services and functionality than before," he said. "[That] is driving new business opportunities in emerging markets, and provides a flexible platform for our business to expand."

Austin, Texas-based TippingPoint plans to launch a similar program in the next few weeks.

And Lantronix, a device networking and console management vendor out of Irvine, Calif., plans to launch an MSP enablement portal this fall. According to Errett Kroeter, director of channel marketing, the new portal will offer information to solution providers considering a move to managed services. It will provide a variety of advice and tools, including process flow diagrams, implementation case studies and sample contracts. "It's better to start something with a base of knowledge than to chase your own tail," Kroeter said. "Rather than solution providers taking our products and building managed services around them from scratch, we think we can show them some good ideas."