“We have a business plan for every partner, based on the product...

“We have a business plan for every partner, based on the product segment”

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fortinet_jitendra-ghughalWhat are the trends driving the network security market today?
Looking at the data breach incidents that made news in 2013 and into 2014, sophisticated threats continue to beat traditional defenses. Surveys confirm this trend: PwC reported that 18% of organizations reported a successful network penetration by outsiders into their network. Verizon noted that breaches routinely remained undetected for months and Fortinet’s own survey conducted by Forrester found that 44% of organizations cited a recent internal security breach as the driver for their NGFW project. In fact, Gartner recommends that all organizations should now assume that they are in a state of continuous compromise. Fortinet recommends a five component Advanced Threat Protection Framework – comprised of established and new technologies and processes – to guide organizations seeking to address this new class of advanced targeted attacks.

Recently, Fortinet extended Partner Education Program with new segmented online network security courses. How did your partners benefited through this programme?
Education is a key enabler, allowing us to expand our businesses and differentiate in the market. Fortinet has found a way to make fundamental training more flexible and accessible, and at no cost to partners through our segmented online network security courses. These courses have proven to be very popular because they provide both theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as cover topics that Fortinet administrators and architects need to know. We believe strongly that a trained channel is a more effective channel. Not only does technical training reduces sales cycles, it enables our partners to deliver additional professional services and support offerings. Fortinet, by implementing these online courses, has made training more flexible and widely available to a larger number of channel partners. That, in turn, better enables the company’s channel sales teams to deliver award-winning network security solutions and a wide range of additional services to customers.

How Fortinet is planning to increase partner base in tier 2-3 cities?
Fortinet has a comprehensive product range catering right from SMB to large enterprise segments. Accordingly we have a business plan for every partner, based on the product segment and market they address. Our go-to-market strategy for tier 2 and 3 cities is to provide pre sales and training support to partners. We work with these partners closely to ensure their margins and our business plans & strategies are aligned in such a way that partners enjoy good profitability. We have appointed channel account managers who will be responsible to identify partners in these markets and train and also support them. The account manager provides one-to-one connect, educate the partners on Fortinet technologies, USPs, available partner tools, resources and above all help them to do business with Fortinet easily. If a tier 2 or 3 partner works on a large business deal, we have vertical specialist to assist them on solution positioning and business planning.

How do you keep your channel informed and updated?
Fortinet’s has launched a series of new initiatives to connect partners to the resources needed to develop expertise, grow business, increase customer satisfaction and maximize profitability. Synergy 2014 quarterly partner update session in the metros helps us plan joint go-to-market strategies where Fortinet would fund channel partners for various client-focused activities. The FortiHero awards are also given out at these events.  These awards recognize individual partners for their achievements and contributions towards Fortinet’s business in the different regions. Today, we have teams in all major metros of India to support our partners. Our team of 40 is spread across the cities like in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Cochin, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Sri Lanka.

What are your future plans?
We have channel strength of over 550 partners in India and our priority is to consolidate our channel base by aligning them to our partner program much more comprehensively. The first step in this direction would be to upgrade around 50 Bronze partners to Bronze+ level in the coming six months. Our partner specialization program helps partners define their approach to the market by targeting one or more Fortinet solutions. We will identify 15 partners who have experience in wireless products and enhance their expertise to become Fortinet Wireless specialist.

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