SonicWall Hires New Channel Execs

The new leaders include Michael Valentine as vice president of channel sales, and Lief Koepsel as director of channel marketing. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor made both appointments in late January.

The duo replaces Dave Crilley, who resigned his position as director of worldwide channel marketing in November, and joined messaging security vendor ProofPoint early this year. ProofPoint, Cupertino, Calif., is expected to launch a channel program of its own at next week's RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Valentine, who will take over channel sales initiatives and programs, was formerly vice president of sales Americas at WatchGuard. Koepsel, who will take over day-to-day channel management, has held senior marketing and sales positions in companies including Dell Computer and Seagate.

In his first formal interview in the new post, Koepsel said Tuesday he will preserve Crilley's legacy of prioritizing channel sales, and will pay particular attention to SonicWall's Managed Security Service Partner program, a special channel for managed security solution providers (MSSPs).

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"As we see the market trending toward services, efforts like the MSSP program will continue to be a strong part of our 2005 plans," he said. "We don't plan to make any dramatic changes, except to continue our commitment to partners."

SonicWall partners were notified of the new leadership by email last month. Koepsel said that a formal announcement and his big "coming out" party will be part of SonicWall's annual partner event in April.

Some partners said they were eager to see what Koepsel can do. Steve Ryder, president of WAN Strategies, Keene, N.H., said he didn't think Koepsel would differ too much from Crilley, noting that most of the company's channel vision actually is driven by CEO Matt Medeiros.

"Matt is really tied to the channel, so I can't imagine very much is going to change," said Ryder. "I'm sure [Koepsel] will do just fine."

Roy Martindale, product manager at GoldenWest Technologies, Rapid City, S.D., agreed.

"SonicWall has committed too much energy into channels to change anything too much," he said. "A lot of people have invested a lot of money, and that's not something they will ignore."