Survey: Alternative Vendors Offer Cutting-Edge Benefits

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print


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SonicWall research finds VARs and end users are drawn by smaller players' flexibility, innovation and quick response to customer needs.

It's a matter of when, not if. Eventually a customer will ask for some feature, function or price point that just can't be pulled off with the current vendors' product set.

At that point, a VAR can try to come up with a custom solution from the products it already sells. According to a new survey, however, an increasing number of VARs are finding it more productive—and more profitable—to add an alternative vendor's offerings to their repertoire.

According to the research conducted by security and data backup specialist SonicWall, many solution providers are finding that smaller, alternative vendors can innovate and deliver customized solutions to solution providers more quickly and cheaply than the larger market leaders.

SonicWall conducted the 2008 survey of 580 IT professionals both at Interop and online. The survey found that 85 percent of the participants had upgraded their security infrastructure in the last two years, and that 70 percent of those had considered an alternative vendor's networking security technologies.

The top reason most companies gave for straying from current suppliers was that the alternative vendor offered a more comprehensive feature set, according to 32 percent of respondents, followed closely by better service and support, at 30 percent.

SonicWall clearly counts itself in that alternative vendor category. The company trails Cisco Systems, Check Point Software Technologies, Juniper Networks, Symantec and even Nokia Siemens Networks on Synergy Research Group's 2007 list of top-grossing networking security companies. Cisco also has overwhelming market share and owns much of the networking ecosystem, with a broad portfolio of networking and security products, according to analysts at Lazard Capital Markets.

As an example, SonicWall Director of Product Marketing Jon Kuhn points to the recent release of his company's NSA 2400 appliance, which takes advantage of SonicWall's RFDPI (Reassembly Free Deep Packet Inspection) 8 engine, and uses a multicore design to inspect some 98 percent of network traffic. VARs were often reluctant to deliver deep-packet inspection because of the expense and the adverse impact on network speed and performance that typically accompanies DPI. But Kuhn claims the new multicore appliances scale to any size network without compromising performance, something the larger market players have yet to achieve at the NSA 2400's price point.

"We're challenging you to go turn on all the monitoring capability you can. Because we can do this faster and inspect more traffic than anyone else," Kuhn says.

For Rick Bahl, owner of Quality Systems Solutions, partnering with SonicWall was a question of feature set rather than agility. He said SonicWall's UTM (unified threat management) appliance, which includes a firewall, has helped him move customers away from Microsoft's ISA servers, which were difficult to install, configure and manage.

"We went with SonicWall because it's easier to include value-add features—gateway anti-virus, gateway anti-spam—in a solution, and from a tech standpoint, it's a solid [UTM] product with good technical support," Bahl says.

Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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