3 min read

SMB security partners being targeted by upstart Napera

NAC vendor Napera Networks has launched its partner program and is targeting the Canadian channel

With so much of Canada’s business community falling into the small and medium business (SMB) space, Napera Networks and CMI Inc. both see strong opportunity in Canada for Napera’s SMB-focused network access control solutions through a 100 per cent channel strategy.

A network security vendor founded in 2006 by former executives from WatchGuard, Microsoft and other networking companies, Seattle-based Napera recently launched its first product, N24. It’s a network access control (NAC) solution that comes in a switch appliance form with online management service, combining device health, identity enforcement and guest access in the one solution.

Napera’s CEO and founder is Todd Hooper, a former WatchGuard executive who also ran several VARs in his native Australia. When founding Napera, he says they identified security as a growing concern for SMBs, particularly given the increasing mobility of today’s workforce. People are moving in and out of the network with wireless laptops, making network security a pressing concern.

“One of the top challenges IT managers are facing is when users are coming in and out of the network with a laptop, what state is that machine in?” says Hooper. “And it’s not just employees, contractors are plugging into your network. What is your exposure then?”

While there are existing NAC solutions from vendors such as Cisco Systems and Microsoft, Hooper says they’re complex, expensive and designed for the large enterprise space. N24 is designed for the SMB, with a sweet spot of organizations from 100 to 500 employees.

With its appliance format, Hooper says the N24 is designed to deploy like a switch in 10 minutes and doesn’t require desktop agents, making it easy for SMBs lacking in IT resources. Designed to give the IT manager visibility into the machines coming onto their network, it allows IT to automatically authenticate the user, restrict their network access if appropriate, and ensure their patches and security are up to date before allowing access.

The N24 features 24 ports for $3,495, and can be expanded with the N24S for $995, up to a total of eight units for 192 ports. Hooper says a customer could choose to use the Napera product to more tightly control network access for certain higher risk groups, such as guests or a mobile sales force.

Napera is taking a 100 per cent channel approach, says Hooper. The vendor sees strong channel opportunity for NAC offerings in the SMB, for whom the enterprise-class NAC offerings have been out of reach.

“There are also strong cross-sell opportunities,” said Hooper. “It fits well with other security solutions VARs are likely carrying, such as anti-virus, anti-malware and firewalls.”

The newly launched Napera Advantage Partner Program offers two tiers based on volume and investment. The vendor is also offering real registration, something from his VAR background Hooper calls key.

“I know the frustration of working on a great opportunity, doing a lot of work on it, and then losing it to someone that comes in and undercuts you,” he said.

Napera has an active lead generation program to pass on leads to partners. In addition to the box sale, each N24 also generates annual subscription revenue. The renewal is handled by Napera, but Hooper says the partner that made the initial sale continues to receive a share of that subscription revenue each year, even with no further involvement.

While Hooper declined to disclose the margins on the hardware sale, he termed them as very healthy and competitive.

“Partners appreciate that we’re a new vendor, we’re hungry for business, and we’re 100 per cent channel-focused,” said Hooper.

Napera has partnered with CMI Inc., a Gatineau, Que.-based channel management company, to help it reach Canadian partners. CMI president Luc Gervais says the SMB market is largely untapped and concerned about security, adding he sees Napera fitting in well with some of CMI’s other vendor partners, such as IronKey, Mi5 Networks and Lumension Security, for good bundling opportunities.

“All of these products together make for an interesting solution for the SMB,” said Gervais.

CMI is also working with Napera on marketing and lead generation, and is planning to roll-out some aggressive special offers to introduce the N24 to the Canadian market, and will offer partners technical support.