Trusted advisor role more crucial than ever, Fortinet channel chief says

Jon Bove, vice president of North American channels at Fortinet

Jon Bove, vice president of channels at Fortinet

With the sudden shift of so many businesses to a work-from-home environment, solutions providers are needed “now more than ever” to serve in the long-touted role of trusted advisor, says Fortinet’s channel chief.

Jon Bove, vice president of channel sales at Fortinet, praised the role the company’s partners have had in helping their customers “keep their workforces productive through our products that secure devices and transactions moving from the edge to the network core and to the cloud.”

While some of that advice is long-term in nature, as re-architecting SD-WAN for a more work-from-home environment is no doubt a long-term strategy play, Bove stressed there are some “today” opportunities too. He touted a variety of tools for teleworkers of various levels of sophistication, from the general office worker to those who need more computing performance or access to more sensitive corporate data.

“Existing Fortinet customers already have remote worker solutions embedded in their FortiGate firewalls that can be used at no additional charge, like VPN functionality,” Bove said. “Fortinet also offers free FortiClient software which can be quickly installed on both business and personal devices to create encrypted VPN connections to the enterprise network.”

He said the company is presenting partners with reinforcements in terms of Webinars and other resources on the company’s partner portal “to better guide their customers through new challenges.”

“We’re focused on helping our partners and customers maintain business continuity and secure their distributed remote workforce,” Bove said.

At last year’s Accelerate event in Orlando, the company announced significant changes to its partner program; one Bove described as engaging more with partners in the roles they play than the previous program, which grouped partners in more traditional roles.

Those changes are in place, and the first specializations introduced to partners include cloud, access and branch, data center, and secure SD-WAN. While phase one of the new program is out, Bove said there’s still more to come for partners later this year.

“We’ll be coming up with specializations around Zero Trust, around security operations, and around Operational Technology,” Bove said. “I think you’ll continue to see us expand the security fabric, and we’ll be very much aligned with corporate messaging.”

Among those first specializations to launch, Bove said the secure SD-WAN category has seen “particularly good early returns,” with partners rushing to get technical and sales certifications to match a hot opportunity in the market.

“We have a lot of tailwind behind us from an SD-WAN perspective,” Bove said. “And I think we’re going to continue to see the network security and SD-WAN markets converge over time.”

He predicted that channel opportunity around SD-WAN would continue to grow, particularly as the company’s new ASICs for SD-WAN in its Fortigate devices promises to make the technology more broadly available to SME customers.

“It’s definitely a big opportunity for the channel as we sit here today,” Bove said.

Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at ChannelBuzz.ca. He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997. 

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