WatchGuard is also announcing that Panda resellers can now join the WatchGuardONE program, with their status in the WatchGuard program grandfathered for six months.
Today, security vendor WatchGuard Technologies is making several announcements around the integration of endpoint vendor Panda Security. Both legacy WatchGuard and Panda resellers now have access to the full set of SKUs from the entire company, including all purchasing options and business models. A new specialization for Endpoint Security, which has been built from the ground up to fit within the parameters of the WatchGuardONE partner program, has been added. In addition, as of today, Panda resellers are eligible to join the WatchGuardONE program with status matching of their status in the WatchGuard program for six months. The Panda program continues to remain in place, however.
WatchGuard’s acquisition of Panda closed on June 1, and the new announcements mark the progression of the acquisition, said Michelle Welch, senior vice president of marketing at WatchGuard. It brings together between 11,000 and 11,500 legacy WatchGuard partners with approximately 6,500 from Panda. There was relatively little overlap, since Spanish-based Panda was still mainly EMEA focused. That overlap was less than 10%, and primarily in southern Europe.
Most WatchGuard channel partners had been working with an endpoint vendor other than Panda, but Welch expects that will change.
“On the conservative side, over time we expect more than 50% of committed WatchGuardONE partners will migrate to Panda, Welch said.
That expectation, Welch stated, is backed by two data points.
“First, we do an annual partner survey, and between 2017 and 2019, endpoint security was the number one product partners wanted to see us offer,” she said. “This was from over 50% of over 2000 respondents each year.”
The other factor is that partners are focused on vendor consolidation.
“They are looking to have as few strategic vendors as possible,” Welch said. The committed partners are the ones who are certified in the WatchGuardONE program, which amounts to about 1700 certified partners, about 15% of their pre-Panda base, which also includes many transacting partners through distribution.
Welch acknowledged that as Panda is not well known, there was a lack of brand recognition among WatchGuard partners.
“There is a lack of brand awareness, but not a brand perception issue, so it’s more of an education issue,” she said. “We looked at several candidates for acquisition, but our product team fell in love with Panda’s ease of use and how they handle endpoint threats. That’s why our setting up our Early Access Program was so important to us. Panda was relatively unknown to our partners, but we knew if it got it in their hands, seeing would be believing.”
That program got more than 25% of partners in WatchGuard’s program using Panda.
“The Early Access program has had a limited number of SKU’s,” Welch said. “The goal of the program wasn’t to drive sales but to help partners understand the purchasing experience. We also supported a limited number of business models. Our Passport bundle wasn’t included, for example. There is now a full set of purchasing options and business models, including inclusion in the Passport bundle.”
While Panda’s partner program remains separate, WatchGuard is already taking steps to bring Panda partners into the WatchGuardONE program.
“The biggest difference between the two programs is that WatchGuard is 100% two-tier distribution, while Panda was mainly a one tier model, dealing directly with partners,” Welch indicated. “That meant that they were almost all front-end discounts, and we were a mix of front and back end. The challenge was understanding how the financial discounting worked. They had a lower threshold for deal registration, so we reduced ours on all endpoint deals. We looked at their benefits and determined it was apples to apples in financial benefits – just presented differently. The soft benefits were better in the WatchGuard program, which makes transition easier.”
As of October first, WatchGuard is offering status matching for Panda partners, inviting all of them to join the WatchGuard program with their Panda status for six months.
“We haven’t set a sunsetting date for the Panda program, but if they transact through distribution it only counts if it’s through the WatchGuardONE program,” Welch said.
Welch said Panda partners tend to see the new program as a positive.
“The questions I get are around financing,” she noted. “They want to know if they are losing any money, and they aren’t. We have retained the Panda internal sales teams, so they still have a direct touch whenever it is needed.”
The new WatchGuardONE specialization for Endpoint Security joins their three existing ones for Network Security, Multi-Factor Authentication, and Secure Wi-Fi. The WatchGuardONE program doesn’t use revenue threshold to measure engagement for tiering, but rather commitment to training in these specializations.
“The content of the new specialization has been completely recreated from the ground up through the newly combined technical training team,” Welch said. “It was redone to fit our model, which has no revenue thresholds, and our technical training standards. They didn’t have some things we do, like proctored exams, or the equivalent of our more formal study guides.”
The ultimate destination of this integration is a fully Unified Security Platform that brings Panda completely within the management parameters of WatchGuard Cloud.
“The goal is to do this no later than summer 2021,” Welch stated.
Welch emphasized how all of this reinforces WatchGuard’s dedication to the channel community.
“It’s what makes us stand out from the rest of the pack,” she said. “I always get asked what number one thing for vendors is, which is cost reduction and new business development. For partners, the big things that will make a difference is vendor consolidation, simplification and business flexibility. All of these things help reduce costs and stimulate new business development.”