Unfolding opportunities in the burgeoning UTM market

Network Box's mission "is to produce, provide and maintain effective, affordable, computer security systems to protect the computer systems of enterprises of all sizes...all companies, regardless of size, should be afforded the same level of protection." The company is expanding its channels and is seeking resellers switched onto UTM solutions. Ian Lindsay-Watson (pictured right), the company's channel manager, takes part in a Q&A session with IT Reseller.

Q: Ian thanks for participating in this discussion. Can we begin with an overview of the Network Box route to market?

A: Network Boxs route to market is a simple and efficient one; we deliver our unified threat management (UTM) solution directly through reseller partners. As a managed service provider, using distributors isnt the most effective route and leaving them out of the loop reduces complications such as price wars, while keeping costs lower for our end-users and margins higher for channel partners.

We do, of course, communicate directly with end-users to obtain references that can be used by our partners when they speak to new prospects.

Q: How do you view the current state of the European market for your technology?

A: According to IDC, the UTM market will grow to 50 per cent of the European security market for vendors by 2009. For our partners in the UK and Ireland there are increasing opportunities because end-users understand the benefits of using a UTM solution. These include cost-savings and with us, having security updates automatically pushed to them to protect their networks from the latest Internet threats. Ultimately, having a comprehensive solution with transparent, competitive pricing, combined with a managed service is very attractive to IT managers.

The network security market in the UK and Ireland is saturated with traditional vendors, but very few of these vendors proactively push security patches and updates to their customers. Remembering to update security patches has traditionally been the Achilles heel for many businesses. If users forget to update their patches, they are exposed to threats, but a UTM plus solution that incorporates a managed service and automatically pushes updates, removes this problem.

UTM is a growth area, which means rival vendors arent undercutting each other and we can offer our partners healthier margins.

Q: Do you need to expand your current channels? If so, what kinds of partners are you looking for?

Yes, while we have a handful of key competent partners on board today, including networking and security specialists, were keen to expand our channel. Weve been selling through the channel for about a year now, and our aim is to have a 100 per cent channel model within a year to 18 months. To achieve this, we need to partner with more security and networking experts who understand that end-users are rapidly buying into the UTM managed security market. It saves them time and money and according to industry predictions, in a couple of years time around 80 per cent of gateway security will be UTM appliances. Partners that adopt this now will gain first-mover advantage and reap the rewards.

Q: How will you support them?

A: We have a new Partner Programme that offers very competitive margins, training, sales and technical support, and dedication to proactive partners who are prepared to put Network Box at the forefront of their security offerings. Relationships with our partners are based on trust and we do everything we can to ensure their customers are happy.

Most vendors are forced to discount heavily in many cases to win deals and this relays directly back onto the margins of partners. Were not interested in overloading ourselves with hundreds of partners because this just creates channel conflict and price wars. Instead, we want to maximize margins to our partners by developing strategic relationships with fewer but more focused resellers, specialists and integrators who we regard as an extension of our own business.

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