WatchGuard Adds Wi-Fi, Authentication Specialties to Partner Program

WatchGuard partners that get sales and technical certifications around the company's secure Wi-Fi or multifactor authentication offerings will now be eligible for front-end and deal registration discounts.

WatchGuard has expanded its partner program beyond network security, enabling solution providers focused on Wi-Fi or multifactor authentication to qualify for financial incentives.

The Seattle-based cybersecurity vendor said partners that get sales and technical certifications around the company's secure Wi-Fi or multifactor authentication offerings will now be eligible for front-end and deal registration discounts, said Senior Vice President of Marketing Michelle Welch. Solution providers previously had to be credentialed in network security to become a WatchGuardONE partner program member, she said.

"I hope that the partners all love the new routes to entry," Welch told CRN exclusively. "There's no product portfolio left behind."

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WatchGuard has been in the network security space for more than two decades, Welch said, and in recent years has expanded its portfolio to include Wi-Fi and multifactor authentications. Specifically, she said WatchGuard's Wi-Fi offering started three years ago as an extension of its Firebox appliance, while the company's authentication capabilities come courtesy of its August 2017 acquisition of Datablink.

Multifactor authentication will be a top purchasing priority for partners and end users in the coming years, Welch said, but many SMB and midmarket customers still don't have an offering in place. For this reason, Welch said WatchGuard will often end up filling a gap in the customer's security posture rather than embarking upon a rip-and-replace project.

As for secure Wi-Fi, Welch said WatchGuard provides access points that offer additional sophistication and can be controlled by the firewall or through WatchGuard’s Wi-Fi cloud management platform. The company provides a true security layer on top of existing Wi-Fi tools to better protect employees and guests connecting to the network, according to Welch. As a result, Welch said there's often not a need to rip and replace the existing architecture.

Nearly 10,000 solution providers transact with WatchGuard each quarter, she said, but most of those channel partners have to pay whatever price distribution is charging. Between 1,800 and 2,000 channel partners are part of the WatchGuardONE partner program today, which segments solution providers into three value-based tiers, according to Welch.

Welch hopes adding specialties around Wi-Fi and multifactor authentications will allow WatchGuard to grow its partner program ranks to above 2,000. To gain access to the entry-level Silver tier, Welch said partners must pass a technical exam around either network security, Wi-Fi or multifactor authentication and complete four, 20-minute sales training courses around the same technical competency.

Silver-level partners with a single specialization are eligible for a 5 percent front-end discount as well as a 15 percent deal registration discount, according to Welch.

"This makes it easier for partners to make more money," she said.

The next tier up, Gold, requires two solution provider employees to hold technical and sales certifications around WatchGuard products, Welch said. Both certifications can be around the same products, or the partner can have one certification around two different products, according to Welch.

Gold partners are eligible for a 10 percent front-end discount, a 5 percent back-end rebate, a 2 percent co-op, and a 15 percent deal registration discount, according to Welch.

The highest tier, Platinum, is invitation-only and requires that at least one employee hold technical and sales certifications across all three technological areas, according to Welch. Platinum partners are eligible for the same front-end and deal registration discounts as Gold partners, she said, and can take advantage of a 7 percent back-end rebate, a 4 percent co-op, and a dedicated executive sponsor.

"It's an excellent opportunity for partners to expand their training capabilities," Welch said.

Adding secure Wi-Fi and multifactor authentication competencies will help Verteks Consulting differentiate itself from other solution providers that also sell network security, according to Don Gulling, president of the Ocala, Fla.-based company.

The level of customer interest in multifactor authentication and secure Wi-Fi is incredibly high, Gulling said, with a growing consensus that conventional passwords provide insufficient protection and a simple and effective offering from WatchGuard will drive adoption of secure W-Fi.

Meanwhile, Gulling said compliance concerns associated with HIPAA, PCI and GLBA (which covers financial institutions) are the top driver for secure Wi-Fi sales. Verteks Consulting is already selling WatchGuard's Wi-Fi and multifactor authentication tools, Gulling said, and will "100 percent" pursue the new certifications to demonstrate its expertise to customers.

WatchGuard is Verteks' largest cybersecurity vendor, with the solution provider achieving 27 percent year-over-year growth in its WatchGuard business last year, according to Gulling. He would like to see WatchGuard expand into additional product areas this year or next year so that channel partners like Verteks have more WatchGuard-branded tools to bring to their clients.

"The WatchGuard business has been very good," Gulling told CRN. "Demand has been high."