Cisco and Westcon bring IronPort to Canadian channel

Dan Forbes

Dan Forbes, vice president and general manager of Westcon Canada.

Cisco Systems and Westcon Group have expanded their distribution deal to bring Cisco’s IronPort line of e-mail and Web security products to Canadian solution providers.

Under the deal, IronPort products will be available through Westcon’s Comstor business unit, and the distributor will help recruit and train partners for the solutions.

Adding IronPort to its product line helps round out the distributor’s Cisco lineup, as well as its broader security offering, said Dan Forbes, vice president and general manager of Westcon Canada.

“IronPort is a leader in the e-mail and Web security space, and we have a great relationship, locally and globally with Cisco,” Forbes said. “We’re excited to extend this relationship to include IronPort.

It’s also a timely issue, he added, as content security continues to gain attention and evolve in a more mobile world.

“The security of private data, compliance and concerns with data loss are all heightened in this new era, any location productivity,” Forbes said. “Data loss is becoming headline news across North America whenever it happens.”

Susan Don, director of security go-to-market for worldwide channels at Cisco, praised Comstor for its focus on Cisco products, and the value-add it provides. She said it would be the “additional services” that Westcon is able to provide for partners that will make the deal successful.

Don said one of the main ways end users acquire IronPort solutions is through a try-before-you-buy evaluation program. While these programs are very successful, ending with a close rate of upwards of 80 per cent, and represents a good return on investment for partners, but still takes time and effort for technical staff to take hours that would otherwise be billable to support those evaluations. One of the services Comstor provides is the ability to provide two-tier partner support for those kinds of evaluations to make sure partner technicians are in the field with customers.

“We really see a great opportunity to work with Westcon specifically as a value-added distributor,” Don said. “They’ve got a real focus on areas that align with Cisco’s portfolio.”

The distributor also works with partners not operating in a managed services model, support periodic billing for customers who purchase IronPort services in that way.

The deal is the debut for IronPort in the Canadian distribution market. Don said that like many new technology companies, IronPort had morphed from an initial direct sales model to a vendor-to-reseller channel. Within a year of acquiring IronPort in early 2007, Don said Cisco had launched the technology through Comstor. Now, the agreement comes to Canada, with the eye on Comstor supporting both existing Cisco partners looking to add content security to their business as well as security-focused partners who haven’t done a lot of Cisco business in the past.

With the start of its fiscal year last August, Cisco expanded its Advanced Security Specialization to include IronPort content, and Don said there are “huge numbers” of partners with that specialization in Canada and worldwide.  Reaching out to those partners and helping them integrate IronPort into their offerings with be a top priority for Comstor, although Forbes’ said the distributor’s mentorship model lends itself to partners who are willing to make a commitment to build a practice, rather than signing up masses upon masses of partners.

“We have a process that mentors them through building a practice, taking a partner from zero to productive in a short period of time,” he said.

Forbes said IronPort product is available now through Comstor Canada, and the distributor will roll out education and training to the channel over the course of the first quarter of 2011 and into the early second quarter.