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Fortinet offers more products to channel partners with TalkSwitch acquisition

The security vendor is looking to help its partners gain more share in the SMB and VoIP markets

Fortinet Inc. has expanded its presence both in Canada and in the unified communications market with its recent acquisition of TalkSwitch, an Ottawa-based developer of PBX and VoIP systems. Fortinet, however, but will be keeping its new division separate from its own branding for now.

“We’ll be keeping TalkSwitch at an arms length,” said Michael Valentine, vice-president of sales for the Americas at Fortinet, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. “It’s our partners’ choice,” he added, and TalkSwitch will still do the training for partners looking to be certified with its products.

Fortinet would not disclose the financial terms of the acquisition, which was finalized at the end of April, but said that the deal size is immaterial.

Still, the acquisition is an important one for Fortinet, mainly known as a security solution vendor with a presence in the unified threat management (UTM) market. “Most of [our partners] are doing something in the VoIP marketplace,” Valentine said. “The goal was to give our partners more selection.”

“Resellers will be looking at medium to small businesses,” he said, a market that TalkSwitch targets. Prior to the acquisition, the company had 466 partners in Canada and 1500 globally.

Fortinet also wants its partners to be able to come to one vendor to get everything it needs to sell a complete solution, he said. “Channel partners have ability to purchase breadth of products from TalkSwitch.”

“We work through the channel and channel only,” Valentine said and the company’s channel strategy will remain focused on managed service providers, he said. Valentine said the company may put TalkSwitch’s own partners on the fast track to becoming Fortinet partners, but both companies will remain distinct operations.

Fortinet is, however, “hoping to attract better expertise of data and voice and network infrastructure,” he said. “Fortinet is looking for partners who can sell products together as a complete solution.”

Fortinet has had an office in Ottawa since 2002, which has since grown to more than 70 employees and its presence in the Canadian market is growing, Valentine said. The company currently has just over 400 partners in Canada, most at the silver level.