Fortinet overhauls network security certification program

Fortinet will retire its existing certifications in a year in favor of a new, modular and more robust certification that partners had requested


Joe Sykora, vice president of Americas sales operations and channels at Fortinet

Security vendor Fortinet has announced the Network Security Expert (NSE), a new technical certification program which offers more modular and robust training than its two existing certification programs, FCNSA and FCNSP, which will eventually be phased out in favor of the NSE.

“A lot of the reason for the change was feedback from partners, who were asking us for a more modularized training program,” said Joe Sykora, vice president of Americas sales operations and channels at Fortinet. “We constantly updated the content for FCNSA and FCNSP, but it was just time to come up with the next level of program. That’s what the new NSE program is. It reflects that Fortinet has grown a lot over the years, and we needed to have a more robust offering.”

Sykora said that the new program is better suited to deal with the growing complexity of the industry.

“Security has gotten more complex and continues to do so every single day,” he said. “The NSE allows us to go deeper with our certification. The old certifications were very general, and didn’t go as deep as we need today. That’s particularly so since we released the new FortiOS 5.2 [two months ago]. There is now so much more we can do with our platforms.”

The new NSE certification has eight levels, and includes a wide range of self-paced and instructor-led courses. Topics range from survey-level courses at the lower levels to advanced architectural level subject matter at the high levels.

“It is much more comprehensive than the old courses, and the content has been significantly expanded,” Sykora said. “At the higher level, it does require more of a commitment, on the technical side, which makes it more difficult than before, but there is also more reward. We want to recognize people who go through all eight of the modules.”

Sykora said the Fortinet certification is among the more valuable in the industry.

“It is an accreditation in the market,” he said. “Any employee who has taken the time to certify shows a level of dedication.” NSE certification also offers a number of tangible benefits for partners specific to their level beyond the important public recognition, which include invitations to NSE-only events and VIP access to support engineers.

The old FCNSA and FCNSP certifications will remain in effect for one year following the NSE launch, with full benefits for participants. After a year, participants will be required to update their certifications according to the terms of the new NSE program.

“In our partner program we do require you to retest every time we come up with a new OS, so this updating won’t be new,” Sykora said. “In Q2, we made all our online training free, to ease the burden there. Before it averaged around $499 per class. We’ve seen a huge spike in people taking advantage of training since this was done.” Instructor-led classes still have a fee, because of the costs in delivering them.

Sykora said that while the new program had not been telegraphed to partners prior to the launch, it had been discussed with the Partner Advisory Council, and their feedback was very positive.