Pulse Secure, Fortinet announce technology, go-to-market integration

The deal goes beyond the technology integration and makes Pulse Secure and Fortinet strategic partners. The go-to-market element will see the two companies proactively identify a cadre of strong mutual partners, and use them to drive the solution to market.

Andreas Koch, Vice President of Strategy, Corporate Development and Alliances at Pulse Secure

Secure access solution vendor Pulse Secure and security vendor Fortinet have announced a new partnership. It involves a bi-directional technology integration between their products, but also has a significant go-to-market element that will benefit the many joint partners of both vendors.

“Like other network access control [NAC] vendors, we integrate broadly with all firewall vendors,” said Andreas Koch, Vice President of Strategy, Corporate Development and Alliances at Pulse Secure. “We have over 30 interoperability partners. Where there is mutual interest, we also work together on a joint go-to-market. We need to have technical interoperability with all vendors, but with Fortinet, we will also partner on the go-to-market going forward.”

Koch emphasized that the technical integration by itself is significant. It incorporates Pulse Policy Secure NAC with the Fortinet FortiGate enterprise firewall and the Fortinet Security Fabric. This bi-directional integration includes sharing security context and applying policy-based mitigation to reduce network exposures and cyber threat response time.

“This has great value to our mutual partners because it enhances both the functionality of the firewall and the NAC,” Koch said “The integration enables their firewall to take action to trigger firewall traffic controls from the NAC data, and the NAC can receive alerts from the firewall. In our own solution, we can do a device health check and make sure the anti-virus is up to date, but determining if a device or firewall is compromised can best be determined by suspicious traffic flows, and for that, you want to bring in as much data as possible.”

Koch stressed that this also has a sales angle to it.

“Customers are beginning to see that this kind of integration greatly enhances the value of both their firewall and NAC deployments,” he said. “As a result, you have growing customer demand for these kinds of integrations.”

While Fortinet also has a broad partnering strategy, Koch said that they don’t partner with everyone, and that’s something that was a plus for Pulse Secure.

“They are more selective, and that was attractive to us,” he said. “We are the only NAC provider that is part of their Fabric. Long term, we know that they will also have interoperability with other NAC vendors, but there are other elements to this partnership. We are proactively driving our go-to-market strategy. We are also exchanging road maps to improve the integration of products over time. That is where the Fortinet relationship is different from say, our relationships with Palo Alto Networks and Juniper, because we will now work together as strategic partners with Fortinet.”

Koch explained how the go-to-market relationship will work.

“Together, we will jointly identify opportunities and take them to market through partners,” he said. ”We will also identify partners important to both of us and push our joint solution through them to the marketplace.”

Thus, while Pulse Secure and Fortinet both have huge channels, and many joint partners who will be able to benefit from the integration, the focused go-to-market strategy will concentrate on a more select group within that.

“We have a very large channel partner ecosystem, with over 3000 partners, and Fortinet has a very large channel as well,” Koch said. “We likely have over a thousand joint partners. We will identify a few distributors and a smaller number of key solution providers  to start with, and work proactively with them on the go-to-market.”

Koch noted that from the partner perspective, these integrations also have significant business value.

“NAC deals tend to be large as it is,” he said. “If the partner can link them with a large firewall deal, that’s very attractive to the partner, particularly because it increases stickiness with the customer and thus increases the likelihood of renewal.”

The combined solution will be highlighted at the upcoming RSA 2018 event, at Booth 4140 – North Expo.