UTM appliance vendor Cyberoam boosts partner program

Fresh off doubling its partner portfolio, UTM appliance vendor Cyberoam is making improvements to its channel program.

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Unified threat management (UTM) vendor Cyberoam has increased its sales and technical support for partners and launched a product trial program to help partners sell its UTM appliance -- and to help the emerging vendor compete in the growing UTM market.

The moves come as Cyberoam expands its channel presence, more than doubling its number of partners during the most recent quarter. The Newburyport, Mass., company added 37 partners -- for a total of 60 -- and plans to eventually have 200 to 250.

But that increase alone won't necessarily translate into success, according to Paul Myerson, senior channel analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

"It is easy to sign solution providers up," Myerson said in an email. "It is hard to make them effective. If they provide the right mix of product, support and tools … they can be successful. A critical part of execution is education and lead generation."

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The UTM market is experiencing "fairly decent" growth, with some vendors seeing 30% to 40% growth from 2006 to 2007, said Chenxi Wang, a principal analyst for Forrester Research.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are driving that UTM growth because they want antispam, antivirus, URL filtering and other features without having to manage individual point products, Wang said. Those are the customers Cyberoam is trying to reach through the channel.

"For the most part, we as a company made the decision to be 100% indirect," said Joshua Block, vice president of Cyberoam's North American operations. "Our target customers are the SMBs and SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises]. There are millions of SMBs in the U.S."

The Cyberoam UTM appliance is identity-based and controls network access according to a user's profile, not the machine the user is on. The company launched the product late last year and made its first big push into the channel in April, forming a channel advisory board and hiring a marketing firm to help recruit partners to reach its desired customer base.

The market is becoming crowded and increasingly competitive, with Fortinet, Check Point Software and Juniper Networks in the pack of leading vendors, Wang said. Block said he views SonicWall, WatchGuard, Fortinet and Astaro Internet Security as Cyberoam's major competitors.

"We know we stepped into a commoditized market," he said. "There are lots of UTM products on the market."

But, he added, Cyberoam's identity-management capabilities and its growing partner program will help differentiate its products.

Cyberoam has launched a new partner portal, which provides around-the-clock technical and sales support for partners and lets them track and place orders.

Another new initiative is the 30-day Try and Buy Program, which gives customers a free test drive of the Cyberoam UTM appliance. Partner sales representatives will receive $25 for each appliance they deploy on a trial basis and up to $225 more for every deal they close with trial customers, depending on which model the customer buys.

The best parts about the program are the support that Cyberoam offers its partners and the product it helps them sell, according to Kevin Carlile, a senior consultant with Pinnacle Business Group, a systems integrator (SI) in Jacksonville, Fla., that joined the Cyberoam channel partner network about four months ago.

"The device has pretty much everything our customers need in a single appliance," he said.

Before partnering with Cyberoam, Pinnacle sold appliances by SonicWall and GFI to customers looking for network security. Those products relied on manual processes and "had a very high administrative overhead," Carlile said.

The automated processes in the Cyberoam UTM appliance are its biggest selling point for customers, Carlile said. And for partners, the UTM appliance also has post-sale opportunities. Pinnacle often uses it to extend the virtual private networking (VPN) capabilities of its Citrix customers and integrates it with customers' email servers, Carlile said.

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