SonicWall’s largest Canadian VAR takes Dell deal in stride

The reaction among SonicWall Inc. partners following Dell Inc.‘s (NASDAQ: DELL) announcement Tuesday that it would acquire the security company for an undisclosed amount has been largely positive, at least according to one channel partner.

Steve Weeks, president of Vancouver-based Netcetera Consulting Inc., said he was surprised to learn about the acquisition Tuesday, especially since SonicWall had only been acquired in 2010 by an investor group, Thoma Bravo LLC.

Netcetera has been a SonicWall partner since the late 1990s and also resells those products through its SonicShield e-commerce platform. It’s SonicWall’s largest partner in Canada, with most customers between 20 and 150 employees, but some large clients.

SonicWall is still seen as a small and medium-sized business (SMB)-focused company, but its latest SuperMassive E10000 appliance series has already helped it tap into the larger enterprise market. The acquisition by Dell will continue that momentum forward, allowing channel partners to gain more and larger customers, Weeks said.

SonicWall’s products will be integrated into Dell’s SecureWorks managed security services, KACE vulnerability and patch management systems, cloud security solutions and data encryption solutions, according to Dell.

Generally, the reaction from partners has been positive, based on a conference call with SonicWall on Tuesday morning, Weeks said. There are naturally some concerns coming from partners who aren’t already working with Dell and who might work with its competitors instead.

On a statement on its Web site, SonicWall stressed that there would be no changes to its relationship with its partners. The company has 15,000 resellers across the globe. Those partners will now have the opportunity to join Dell’s PartnerDirect channel program.

Dell plans to extend employment offers to all SonicWall team members following the close of the transaction, a representative told CDN via email. SonicWall team members will remain in their current locations and Dell plans to keep SonicWall’s approximately 900 employees.

Netcetera is also a Dell EqualLogic partner, though it began reselling it after Dell had already acquired that company. Still, Weeks has spoken to other partners who went through that acquisition and the ensuing channel transition and has been told it was relatively smooth.

“Their partner programs are fairly similar,” he said. The companies plan to take the best elements of both channel programs to benefit all partners, according to SonicWall’s statement.

Dell’s partner program and its more channel-friendly approach are newer, but it’s working well, Weeks said. “There are always going to be conflicts,” he said. “I think they’ve done a pretty good job,” of sorting out conflicts when they occur.

Although it’s likely too soon to tell what the branding situation will be, Weeks said he expects it to be similar to Dell’s other acquisitions, where the naming has remained consistent, such as Dell Compellent.

Dell has made several acquisitions in recent years, but none that added to its security portfolio the way that SonicWall can, Weeks said.

“It gives Dell a more enterprise security play,” said Forrester Research security analyst John Kindervag, and helps reduce the company’s dependency on the PC market.

Last year Dell bought switch manufacturer Force 10 Networks, Kindervag also noted. “If they can figure how to integrate, it could be a significant play for people who want another choice in integrated security and networking other than Cisco, Juniper, HP.”

— With files from Howard Solomon, Network World Canada

Follow Harmeet Singh on Twitter: @HarmeetCDN.

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Harmeet Singh
Harmeet Singh
Harmeet reports on channel partner programs, new technologies and products and other issues relevant to Canada's channel community. She also contributes as a video journalist, providing content for the site's original streaming video. Harmeet is a graduate of the Carleton University School of Journalism.

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