Channel program enhancements highlight news at Fortinet Accelerate

Fortinet’s big product news, the launch of FortOS 7.0, actually took place a month ago, although its importance meant it was strongly emphasized at the event, but their channel announcements, including new specializations and the expansion of consumption-based billing to new products, were new.

On Tuesday, Fortinet’s top brass took the virtual stage at the North American version of their Fortinet Accelerate 2021 event, a single day online conference that will be followed this week by EMEA and APAC versions. The event – Fortinet’s second under the virtual cloak imposed by COVID – was not big on breaking news, and was more about recounting the company’s successes in 2020 and strong position for 2021. That was not surprising, since their big product announcement, the release of the 7.0 version of their FortiOS operating system, took place a month ago. Fortinet did announce some channel-focused news on Tuesday, however, a set of enhancements to the Fortinet Engage Partner Program they launched last year, which they are terming Engage 2.0.

“Our sales strategy from day one has relied on the channel,” said Patrice Perche, Chief Revenue Officer & EVP Support at Fortinet in his keynote which opened the event. “Last year we, launched Engage. Now we are launching Phase Two of the program, with new specializations – and a much easier way to do business with us.”

The making it easier to do business with Fortinet part refers to the Engage program’s now supporting new consumption-based billing models for customers, giving partners more flexibility in dealing with those who want to consume this way. It also reflects a significant uptake in demand for consumption offerings, The Engage 2.0 Partner Program will now include support for consumption models around FortiSIEM, FortiEDR, FortiClient, FortiSOAR, FortiAI and FortiDeceptor.

The ways in which Fortinet cloud partners can take advantage of the various routes to market leveraging Fortinet’s Adaptive Cloud Security offerings have also been expanded. Managed cloud service provider partners are now immediately eligible for the Engage Select Cloud Business Model. Participants in this business model are eligible for additional discounts on Fortinet’s flexible licensing models, including BYOL and pay-as-you-go, and gain access to FortiCWP and FNDN.

Fortinet is also announcing the availability of three new specializations focused on high growth areas: Zero Trust Access, Operational Technology and Security Operations. These join existing specializations like Secure SD-WAN, Data Center, Adaptive Cloud Security, and LAN Edge and SD-Branch.

Finally, Fortinet is also announcing that their NSE training courses and eight-level Certification Program, which are free to all Fortinet partners, have been updated allowing partners to meet more compliance requirements. While training has always been free for partners, Fortinet announced at Accelerate that it would now be free for customers as well.

“Fortinet’s Engage Partner Program updates centre around enabling partners to further grow their business profitability and continuing to make it easy for them to do business with us,” said Jon Bove, VP of Americas Channel at Fortinet. “With the introduction of new consumption models for the Security Fabric’s end point solutions, a revamped cloud model for partners and three new Specializations, we’re delivering growth opportunities, flexibility and differentiation that helps Fortinet partners stand out in the market.”

Much of Accelerate was focused on emphasizing to the virtual audience Fortinet’s strong momentum in dealing with the unprecedented environment of 2020, and how they believe themselves to be positioned for strong growth in 2021. Perche noted that 2020 was another very successful year for Fortinet, with billings over $3 billion for first time, at $3.09 billion, up from $2.6 billion in 2019.

“We have had a security-driven network focus, from the beginning, in which security and the network work together,” said Ken Xie, Fortinet’s Founder, Chairman of the Board, and CEO, in his keynote. ”A key advantage over our competitors is our Fortinet Security Fabric, which has the broadest product portfolio, with over 30 product families. Most of these have come from internal development, so that they were designed to integrate from day one. Our competitors have expanded their technology mainly through acquisition, which makes them hard to integrate and almost impossible to automate.”

Xie emphasized Fortinet’s focus today on Zero Trust Access.

“The perimeter is no longer enough,” he stressed. “We now must protect mobile devices, applications in the cloud and other areas like WAN, to protect the whole infrastructure attack surface and also Work From Home. We have SASE, but in the OS level, so it is much deeper than our competitors.”

Xie noted that their market’s TAM has been forecast to be $93 billion by 2024, TAM will be $93 billion.

“We have increased our long term R&D investment to support organic growth,” he said, noting that their new HQ facility in Sunnyvale CA opens later this month.

“We have over 30% of total global deployments,” Xie added. “We have 673 patents, more than double next competitor [Palo Alto Networks, at 258]. We have both profitability and growth.”

“We will continue to expand our platform, and expand our Fabric further into SASE, ZTNA, Cloud and 5G,” Xie stressed. He emphasized that they continue to grow faster than the market, with a CAGR growth rate over the last 20 years that is more than 10% above the market rate.