‘Partners have a huge business opportunity in helping customers build a security architecture around a framework of open standards’

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Jitendra Ghughal, Director - Channels, India & SAARC, Fortinet
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Jitendra Ghughal, Director Channel, India & SAARC, Fortinet talks about the channel expansion plans

What have been the key highlights of 2019 and how will 2020 be an important year for the IT channel industry?

In 2020 our focus is to further consolidate and grow our well-established partner base. We have identified two key areas for expansion, one is the non-metro markets and the other is to work with partners who want to enter the security domain to expand their business.

Fortinet will recognise the strengths and technical expertise of every partner and work with them in offering solutions in secure SD-WAN, Cloud, SIEM, Secure Wi-Fi and Operational Technology.  This will ensure that partners are able to pick Fortinet solutions that fit into their domain of expertise to extend more value to customers.

We are conducting a series of ‘SMB Summit’ for non-metro markets to help partners leverage the right tools and services, to play a key role in enabling SMB customers to modernise their networks. In addition to reducing complexity and mitigating security and compliance risks, partners can help SMBs by offering enterprise-grade services and protections from FortiGuard Labs as their customers shift to a service-oriented business model. These services include customisable offerings such as cloud sandboxing, mobile security, application control, antispam, intrusion prevention and more. For our existing partners the growth of digital transformation combined with the cybersecurity skills gap has led to organisations increasingly seeking expertise to deploy the best security framework. This is an opportunity to grow their businesses while increasing the value they offer to their customers.

Partners also have a huge business opportunity in helping customers build a security architecture around a framework of open standards that not only ensures interoperability, but also increases performance. Automation that can span a variety of third-party solutions enables a proactive posture that accelerates detection, quarantine, and detonation. At the same time, real-time, centralised intelligence enables better decision-making. The centralised management and orchestration of more tools across more platforms enables visibility to be extended and control to be more granular, even in dynamically evolving networks and total cost of ownership goes down while security effectiveness increases.

Can you tell us about the top three technology trends that the channel community should be betting on and why?

Fortinet has identified Cloud, Secure SD-WAN, Operational Technology as technologies which partners can invest to expand and grow their business.

Protecting networks with dynamic cloud security:

Organisations have to figure out how to secure data that is regularly moved back and forth between private and public clouds. Complicating things further, a growing number of cloud compute infrastructures also rely on hyperscale to manage and process often massive amounts of data. Not only do workflows and applications need to securely travel across and between different clouds, data centres and devices to accomplish their tasks, but security also needs to scale to secure the north-south, as well as east-west traffic.

According to Gartner, by 2021, 90 per cent of all web-enabled applications will have more surface area for attack due to exposed APIs, rather than just the user interface – up from just 40 per cent in 2019. And the lack of professionals skilled in both cloud and security strategies and technologies reintroduces a risk to the network that seasoned security professionals have managed to overcome in traditional networks.

Fortinet has addressed these challenges with its unique Dynamic Cloud Security strategy that brings together network and application security solutions into a unified system – combined with visibility and control designed to span the entire multi-cloud infrastructure.

Secure SD-WAN is essential to accelerate the on-ramping of branch offices:

IT teams have been quick to adopt SD-WAN due to its clear benefits. They have significantly underestimated the challenges of implementing an effective and comprehensive security strategy to go along with it due to the challenge of direct Internet access from devices running at the branch. Cybersecurity has become a top-of-mind strategic business issue for enterprise organisations deploying SD-WAN solutions. As a result, organisations worldwide are turning toward solutions that tightly integrate next-generation firewall security and SD-WAN functionality. Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution is the first to combine world-class, fully integrated security into an SD-WAN solution to meet the growing demands and requirements of today’s connected businesses. Fortinet is uniquely positioned to capture significant share of secure SD-WAN Solution market in India.

Unified security strategy for Operational Technology & Critical Infrastructure: 

OT operations are becoming increasingly digitalised, their networks are being exposed to more cyber risk. In fact, almost three quarters  (73 per cent) of industrial firms believe that the attack surface of their IP-connected factory machines has expanded. So, in a world where even a factory production line could now be controlled by malicious actors, cybersecurity is no longer just about protecting emails and users. It’s also about keeping factories, production systems, processing plants, refineries, energy plants, transportation and delivery networks, and other essential infrastructures safely operating. To achieve this, a collaborative approach to security solutions and incident response is essential.

This requires a single, cohesive platform that enables security teams to establish true, single-pane-of-glass visibility and control. Fortinet’s Security Fabric enables them to seamlessly see and address security risk across multi-vector threat landscapes without overburdening security staff resources or impacting their highly differentiated networked environments.

What are the top channel directions your company has set for your partners and where should partners invest to be aligned with these directions?

In today’s rapidly expanding and evolving networks, security plays a more critical role than ever. Naturally, this means that how partners position security to their customers also needs to evolve. New network ecosystems, such as multi-cloud environments and next-gen branch offices, require specialised sales and technology skills that can overwhelm sales teams trained in traditional security strategies. Partners who want to support DevOps require knowledge of cloud networks, application development, and container environments – concepts that may be new to many security sales teams.

Fortinet’s new partner program called Fortinet Engage launched recently is designed to better prepare partners to effectively engage and succeed in today’s new security environment, this program is based on three basic concepts:

Engagement: Partners have the flexibility of determining their level of engagement with Fortinet. By selecting the kinds of expertise they want to develop, the benefits they want to enjoy, and the revenue stream they want to develop, partners have more control than ever over their success with Fortinet.

Business model: Partners will also find that their Fortinet support can be customised to their unique business model. Specialised support is available for three different business models.Traditional Integrators primarily sell on-premise solutions. Market Place partners are cloud-certified specialists who secure customers using a different consumption model.  And MSSP partners earn a significant portion of their revenue from selling managed services. Partners can receive specialised support for any of these business models, or any combination of the three. In addition, all four categories of Fortinet partnership – Advocate, Select, Advanced, and Expert – are available for each of these business models.

Specialisation: In addition to the level of engagement and business model, partners are able to select an area of specialisation to receive additional support and benefits. These specialisation areas include Dynamic Cloud, Secure Access and Branch, Secure SD-WAN, and Data Center. Customised training, certifications, and programs are available for each of these specialisations, with new specialisations, such as OT, Zero Trust Network Access, and Security  Operations slated for release over the coming quarters.

The new partner program is also designed to provide an expanded set of benefits to partners, such as training and certification so they can leverage a wider range of Fortinet consumption models. This not only enables them to better meet the dynamic and expanding needs of their customers – it also enhances partner’s ability to “land and expand.”

Partners are armed with a broad portfolio of integrated solutions, tools, and platforms available in any form factor, and solutions designed to operate natively in and between any networked environments. They have the opportunity to radically change the nature of their relationship with their customer. And significantly expand business and revenue opportunities as a single opportunity can be easily expanded to a long-term relationship.


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