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Q&A – Jon-Marc Wilkinson, WatchGuard Technologies Director of Sales, UK and Ireland, and Tony Price, Director of Solutions at WatchGuard distribution partner Northamber, outline the benefits of partnering with WatchGuard

The lack of unified security is a top reason why organizations fall victim to cyber attacks, as threat actors are able to exploit the gaps in defences. The lack of a unified security solution also impacts partners’ bottom line as they lose productivity and efficiency when they switch between multiple product interfaces to manage security for a single client.

WatchGuard’s mission is all about helping partners elevate, modernize and expand their security delivery by delivering a scalable, unified security platform that is key to helping them on that journey. Today, partners can manage all WatchGuard security solutions, from the network to the endpoint, through one cloud-driven management console, WatchGuard Cloud, giving them greater visibility and control, improved reporting, savings on infrastructure costs and more efficient operations through the automation of security and account management tasks. For managed service providers (MSPs), the platform’s true multi-tier, multi-tenant capabilities make it possible to create and manage an unlimited number of customer accounts and accelerate customer acquisition.

To capitalise on these developments, WatchGuard is now undertaking a partner recruitment drive, as WatchGuard’s JonMarc Wilkinson and Northamber’s Tony Price explain.

WatchGuard had a busy 2021. What are your priorities for the first half of this year?

Jon-Marc Wilkinson: Over the last couple of years, WatchGuard has made significant progress in successfully building out our Unified Security Platform that enables partners to consolidate their offering on WatchGuard. Now that process is complete – with the platform primed to integrate additional capabilities in the future – we are focusing our efforts on a new partner recruitment drive.

We are interested in working not just with traditional cybersecurity partners, but also other technology providers that may be looking to add cybersecurity into their stack to generate additional revenues and good margins. We are already seeing a lot of success in recruiting telco partners and expect to attract interest in other areas where margins have been eroding in recent years.

One of the things we have found is that potential partners are really attracted to our WatchGuardONE partner programme. That’s a key lever for us in recruiting net new partners.

Which aspects of the WatchGuard One programme do new partners find most attractive?

Jon-Marc Wilkinson: The first, and perhaps most important point, is that WatchGuardONE is value-based, not volume-based like other programmes where you have to sell a certain amount in order to become a Gold partner, say.

Selling is important obviously, but we feel it’s more important to be technically trained and technically certified on the product, especially in the mid-market where partners have an important role as trusted advisors to end user customers. With WatchGuard, it’s a case of ‘the more you learn, the more you earn’. That’s one point.

The other thing that should never be forgotten is that our partner programme is 100% channel, 100% of the time. We do have a direct sales team, but we do not take any deals direct; everything goes through the channel.

In fact, one of the big benefits of becoming part of WatchGuardONE is that it gives you access to a complete toolbox to help drive business, including direct access to our account teams, whether that be channel account managers, who can advise you on the different elements of the partner programme and help you get certified, or our direct sales teams who help sell into your customers.

As part of this toolbox, we also provide a portal where partners can access masses of information including data sheets and integration guides to help partners integrate WatchGuard solutions with their customers’ existing third party products.

How do you help resellers that might previously have been selling a competitor’s products manage the transition to WatchGuard?

Jon-Marc Wilkinson: Clearly, many potential partners already work with other vendors and will have certifications and accreditations with them. To ease their transition to WatchGuard, we have something we call Status Match, where we will match the upfront discounts and benefits that they get from an existing vendor. This enables them to take on the WatchGuard portfolio and start selling our products to their customer base almost immediately, without having to wait 90 days while they go through training and certification with us.

Does Status Match apply to all elements of WatchGuard’s portfolio?

Jon-Marc Wilkinson: Yes, it does. Partners will receive the equivalent discount across our four product lines of network security, wireless, multifactor and endpoint.

The opportunity to sell across WatchGuard’s technology stack is clearly a big attraction of partnering with WatchGuard. Do you think that consolidation on WatchGuard gives partners a competitive advantage?

Jon-Marc Wilkinson: Many years ago people talked about having point products – one vendor for your firewall, one vendor for your MFA and so on – but the trend for some time has been to consolidate on a single vendor and to manage all those products centrally through a single pane of glass. If you consolidate onto the WatchGuard platform, with management through our central management platform, the Unified Security Platform (incorporating WatchGuard Cloud), it will be far easier to create a secure network.

Our Unified Security Platform now incorporates network security, firewalls, wireless, multi-factor authentication and endpoint – and not just endpoint security, but also patch management, data control, SIEM integration, systems management. All these elements can now be managed centrally.

That must be a great benefit to managed service partners. How else does WatchGuard meet the needs of MSPs?

Jon-Marc Wilkinson: Watchguard strives to empower our partners and new partners to become MSPs. That doesn’t mean we’re only looking for MSPs, but through Our Unified Security Platform we are enabling partners who perhaps might have started out as a value-added reseller to start offering services into their customer base.

In this context, Flex Pay billing is crucial. This provides a choice of billing methods, including traditional multi-year upfront payments, monthly subscriptions and MSP Points; allowing partners to provision WatchGuard product, with monthly usage-based billing thereafter.

Many of our partners already provide monthly billing for other technologies, such as Microsoft 365, and by offering subscription billing and MSP Points we enable them to incorporate WatchGuard products into existing monthly charges to their customers.

Tony, as WatchGuard’s distribution partner Northamber has had a big role to play in rolling out Flex Pay. How else does Northamber support WatchGuard partners?

Tony Price: From a distribution point of view, Northamber helps identify partners who would benefit from partnering with WatchGuard and then we help them on that journey by guiding them along the most effective route they should take to become a WatchGuardONE partner.

We explain what accreditations partners will need for network security, endpoint and MFA. We can also provide training and workshops as a value-add to help them achieve the necessary accreditations.

So, Northamber has a huge role to play, from the recruitment of partners into the programme to selling the benefits of working with WatchGuard, to training a partner’s technical experts and sales teams so that they can get the certifications they need.

Because we have such a long-standing relationship with WatchGuard, our people know WatchGuard inside out. They’re able to sell the benefits of working with WatchGuard and explain to partners how they can earn more money by becoming more accredited.

Once a solution request has been identified, we would then look at the different options for procurement based on our partners’ customer needs and their priorities.

How can potential partners find out more about the benefits of working with WatchGuard?

We have a dedicated team that are ready to help & advise. If you want to know more about the WatchGuardONE programme then please speak to one of my WG Sales Team on 020 8296 7015. For a product demo, training or some pre sales consultancy with a Northamber Senior Sales Engineer please use our Calendly links (below) or talk to our sales team.

https://calendly.com/northamber-mikebritton or https://calendly.com/rickibriggs

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TechnologyReseller: 2021