Partners, a critical element in Fortinet’s go-to-market strategy

Jitendra Ghughal, Director - Channels, India & SAARC, Fortinet

Jitendra Ghughal, Director – Channels, India & SAARC, Fortinet, shares the company’s channel strategies for 2019

Key highlights 2018 and opportunities for 2019
In 2018, we remained focused on helping partners solve their customer’s pressing security needs and helping them drive their digital transformation. As part of our partner programme we conducted in-depth training sessions for partners across cities in 2018 to hone their skills with Fortinet Security Fabric. The sessions conducted by Fortinet’s technology experts trained partners to deploy products and solutions that talk to each other using a common language and OS, that can openly interact with third-party products and solutions.

We also added a new Silver Level tier to our MSSP programme to provide an entry path for VARs and MSSPs migrating to security services. With the new silver level Fortinet provided partners with enablement starter kits for multi-cloud, SD-WAN, automation, and secure access for IoT and OT (operational technology) to help MSSPs create new service offerings around these technologies.

Looking ahead in 2019, network security is becoming increasingly complex, especially as networks expand to include new cloud resources, and many organisations simply do not have the resources necessary to effectively deploy and manage the tools they need to protect their modern, distributed networks. Leveraging threat assessments, expertise, streamlined onboarding, and centralisation, partners can reduce the complexity of this process for their customers, enhancing the security of their customers while growing their own business.

Top tech trends for channel community
The digital transformation process requires an equivalent security transformation. This means transitioning to a new security architecture that can be applied ubiquitously in networks, computing infrastructure, information assets, users, and devices not formally capable of defending themselves. Security transformation is achieved when an organisation integrates security into all areas of digital technology. The resulting security architecture is integrated and automated, and provides continuous trust assessment to ensure that devices or workloads running on the network are not malicious. Adoption of new security architecture has opened new business fronts for partners in areas like Network Access Control, SD- WAN and Security Incidence & Event Management (SIEM).

  • Network Access Control

The use of IoT devices is growing at a tremendous rate as organisations embrace digital transformation to enable better operational efficiency. According to Gartner, “Internet of Things endpoints will grow at a 32 per cent CAGR from 2016 through 2021, reaching an installed base of 25.1 billion units. As connected devices continue to become more prolific across customers’ networks, they need a modern Network Access Control (NAC) solution that can identify IoT assets, enforce access control rules, and automatically isolate and remediate threats posed by compromised devices.” NAC’s monitoring and response capabilities are especially critical since many IoT devices open networks to additional risk via compromised, poorly written and unpatchable software, unadvertised back doors hardwired into firmware, and more. Customers need a unified view into every IoT device to detect and act on threats. NAC solutions do just that by leveraging automation, contextual data, and integration for visibility across integrated IoT, operations, IT and cloud networks.

FortiNAC allows organisations to identify every single device on the network and enables segmentation, giving each device access only to approved items. This functionality is delivered all within a solution that works with multi-vendor environments and an unlimited number of devices. FortiNAC stengthens the Fortinet Security Fabric for IoT deployments, delivering broad, integrated and automated cybersecurity solutions across the entire attack surface. In the world of IoT, FortiNAC answers the question ‘what’s on your network’ and then enables you to protect it. This is one important technology that partners can look to grow their business with in 2019.

  • SD-WAN

Another key technology for 2019 is SD-WAN, Gartner recently completed a survey that highlights key concerns organisations face as they implement an SD-WAN solution, and strategies for addressing those challenges. SD-WAN has been seeing rapid growth over the past two years according to IDC, with the total addressable market ballooning from US$ 225 million in 2015 to US$ 1.3 billion in 2018, with some experts predicting that it will jump to as much as US$ 4.6 billion in 2022. The driver behind this growth is digital transformation. Branch offices can no longer simply function as a satellite connected to a central network.
For a security solution to meet the demands of an SD-WAN architecture, security needs to be part of your original SD-WAN planning, so security can be thoroughly integrated into WAN functionality, as well as tie into and across other security tools to better detect and prevent today’s advanced threats.

As our customers move toward direct internet access, they understand the growing need for next-generation firewall capabilities and high SSL inspection performance. To make sure customers realise the benefits of SD-WAN without compromising security, Fortinet has evolved our advanced SD-WAN features in the latest FortiOS releases. This focus on secure SD-WAN is clearly resonating with the hundreds of customers and partners who are taking advantage of Fortinet’s unique combination of next-generation firewall and SD-WAN in the same offering, managed through a single centralised controller.

  • Security Incident and Events Management (SIEM)

Lack of integration and automation hampers visibility, making life very complicated for IT and security departments. Most deployments today can be comprised of 30 plus point products, most from different security vendors. These independent and often isolated solutions make integration and automation very difficult. Worse, each usually has its own security console, greatly increasing complexity for NOC and SOC personnel.

Manually correlating data between consoles increases the time required to identify cyber threats and remediate them. And this challenge is compounded due to the added complexity of elastic hyperconnectivity, making it difficult to implement consistent, repeatable, and rapid responses to threats. Given the increasing sophistication of today’s threats, modern defenses need repeatable, automated responses in the order of seconds or minutes to avoid propagation throughout the enterprise.

Even though a NOC or a SOC consolidates a variety of tools and measurements into a single management system, they are still too isolated. Rather than this siloed approach, what’s needed is a new approach, with a system that can bring security visibility and control into the NOC, and provide operational requirements and network and workflow visibility to the SOC. By combining these systems into a single, holistic solution, organisations can focus on the bigger picture of “secure throughput” that can streamline operations while managing and even anticipating critical security events.

FortiSIEM – Fortinet’s Multivendor Security Incident and Events Management solution brings it all together. Visibility, correlation, automated response and remediation in a single, scalable solution. Using a Business Services view, the complexity of managing network and security operations is reduced, freeing resources, improving breach detection. Worldwide 80 per cent of breaches go undetected because of skills shortage and event information ‘noise’. FortiSIEM provides the cross correlation, applies machine learning and UEBA to improve response, to stop breaches before they occur.

Channel directions for partners
The role of a partner has undergone a dramatic change from one of a technology seller to one of a network security solution expertise provider. Customers today with limited resources turn to solutions providers to effectively mitigate modern cyber threats while simultaneously remaining alert to new and evolving attack vectors and methods. To assist customer’s partners, need to have the expertise and knowledge. As a result, we’re actively evolving our partner programme, to encourage holistic technical certification for partners and aligning their sales cycle with the way customers are buying security both today and tomorrow.
Fortinet has designed The Network Security Expert (NSE) programme to help them gain the required expertise. By participating in Fortinet’s NSE programme, partners are able to better assist their customers by expanding on their existing network security skills, as well as their knowledge of Fortinet technologies, while also staying up-to-date on the latest trends across the threat landscape. And for those partners who wish to demonstrate complete mastery of network security, they can complete the NSE 8 certification, an industry-recognised certification that certifies expert knowledge in the complexities of both modern cybersecurity as well as the industry-leading Fortinet security solutions.

Another area for partners to grow their business is cloud services. We have a MSSP programme that helps our partners deliver Fortinet cloud and support services, combined with technology like our virtual firewalls. This makes it much easier for their customers to adopt the benefits of the Fortinet Security Fabric with a predictable monthly pricing model, and benefits the partner with a consistent and recurring source of revenue.
Fortinet also works with our distributors to build options for partners to lease security solutions like our FortiGate Firewall on a monthly rental. This is especially helpful for partners who are new or in the early phases of their transition to managed services so they can build the cost of hardware into their business models and scale services as their business grows, with minimal initial investment.

Partners have always been a critical element of Fortinet’s go-to-market strategy. Our goal is to help partners get aligned with our partner program to accelerate their business and drive unprecedented growth and profit by delivering superior security technology solutions to their customers. We arm partners with the right programs – like deal registration, renewal tracking, incentives for promoting our technologies, and trade promotions – to drive profits.


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