With major presence in the SMB space, SonicWall will continue to leverage its stronghold in the mid market, alongside tapping the large enterprise segment. Wias Issa, VP and GM – APJ, SonicWall, shares the company’s strategy to take the channel partners on this journey
What’s your mandate for the company in this region and how do you see the India market growing vis-a-vis other countries in this region?
India has been the most successful country in terms of business. India continues to be one of the largest investment areas in terms of resources including research and development, engineering, support, sales, sales engineering, marketing. We have resources across the country including major cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi.
Do you see any similarities between Indian and foreign customers in terms of the way they approach security challenges?
In terms of similarities, there are too many products and the security landscape has changed tremendously. Unfortunately, the complexity of the security vendor market has made solving those problems even more difficult. I have observed that members are copying each other in terms of their capabilities. This year in APJ and India specifically, one of my key messages to the market is that SonicWall is not a one dimensional company – this is a misperception we have been facing for the last several years. SonicWall is about tools; we are here to solve real problems, whether it be phishing email, nauseous files, or encrypted communication. Sonicwall is well positioned to be able to provide these solutions.
What are your efforts to reposition the company in the market?
Trust has been gained over time and there are multiple ways to gain that trust. One of the factors behind this is the support that we provide to customer after we sell the solutions and the ongoing innovations. There are already several thousand customers in India alone on SonicWall. My priority to build the brand is making sure that those existing thousands of customers here in India are aware of our other security solutions. Customers are buying security, so they can make sure that their core business can easily operate. We will be focused on ensuring that the market – both customers and channel partners – is aware of Sonicwall’s true new identity.
Do your efforts also require realignment of your go-to-market strategy?
We have looked at what segments of the market – such as education, finance or government – are important for us. We have prioritised a number of market segments. The other area is around tha right solutions to present to those specific segments. We had a fairly successful business in the smaller market segments, and now we are focusing aggressively on the higher end of the market. We have around 4,000 global customers. What we don’t have is significant presence within these accounts. Thereby, our focus is also on going up market and enterprise, and going horizontally into some of the some of the key verticals. SonicWall primarily has been focusing more on the mid market of SMB customers and now, there will be an enhanced focus on the large accounts. The SMB business is a foundation upon which we will build the enterprise and large enterprise business. The SMB market for us is still critically important, so we will be focusing on both. For a company like SonicWall which started off in the SMB market space, to move up is significantly easier than a company which has been operating a large enterprise – this is an advantage for us.
How are you geared up to address new market requirements emerging from the new threat landscape?
We arguably have the most effective deep packet inspection technology in the market, because we build our technology around that and our ability to decrypt traffic. Today, roughly 68 per cent of all internet traffic is encrypted. For example, a bank looking at almost 70 per cent encrypted traffic, will need to then decrypt to see what’s good and what’s bad. A lot of companies are operating blindly and the attackers have become savvy. One of our core competencies is around email security solutions; and we recently made a tremendous innovation wherein we are able to integrate our sandboxing technology with our email security solution – this allows us to find unknown threats. We’re able to identify unknown threats using that same marketing technology integrated with our email security, which means that when a malicious URL is sent to a specific user via email, we’re able to catch that. We also have a strong secure mobile access technology that allows us to protect users outside the corporate network.
In terms of what makes us different, about a year ago, we launched a sandbox technology. Sandboxing itself is not an innovation; sandbox has been around for almost a decade, and we introduced our sandbox in technology about one year ago. It allows us to do real time inspection, sandboxing at the memory level. The problem today is that hackers and designers and purveyors of our have become very sophisticated; they encrypt malicious behaviours. All these expose that for a very short time period anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds at the memory level. We’re able to do the inspection at the memory level and in advance of a weaponised exploit.
In terms of large enterprises in India, do you already have some use cases which can become a reference point as you approach more customers?
For the last few years we have been selling solutions and now published our case studies. We have got ourselves across all verticals with good stories. For example, with one of the smart cities, we have closed one of the east side projects. Recently we have closed one deal in the insurance sector.
How critical would be the role of your partner ecosystem to take your success story forward?
We’ve been around for 25 years we’ve been a channel-first company for the majority that time period. We’re working very closely with some of the largest systems integrators and resellers. Many of our partners are leveraging our deal registration programme. We should do a partnership where SonicWall solutions experts approach the end customers directly, whether it be on the heels of a customer event or some sort of marketing campaign or lead generation event. Then we will have discussions with the customers, identify the systems integrators or partners.
In your bid to tap large enterprises, will you also look at engaging with more specialised security partners?
Yes, definitely. For example, there are partners who are more security focused. Whereas there are also large partners or systems integrators to do multiple things – security, cloud, data centre services. Also distributors role are crucial because various distributors have inroads or closer alliances with different types of partners.
What would be your key priorities and game-plan for 2018 and ahead?
Today we’re having in-depth business discussions with all of our distributors. We’re going to take one of the major strategic initiatives to build our brand, as it is important for people to understand that we are a total security solution provider. We are focused on solving real customer problems, in a manner that’s not complex to understand. Another area of focus for us around solutions – helping more customers solve the email security challenge. One of the other benefits of our email security solution is that we have three form factor even applying for those customers who continue to maintain their own Microsoft machines environments. We have a virtualised version of that for customers’ virtualised environments. We also have a cloud solution for customers who are migrating to Office 365. Moreover we will focus on motivating partners. Our promotions and incentive programmes are not just for distributors, but also our resellers.
We want to make sure that the relationship is mutually beneficial and everyone in the sales cycle is being rewarded for their hard work and activity.