Drawbacks and Support

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Posted 2008-06-10 Email Print this article Print


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


While SonicWall serves as an example of the positive impact an alternative technology can have in the channel, such alternatives are also subject to the same shortcomings that make VARs think twice about adding to their lineups. With SonicWall branching out from its UTM roots to compete with the likes of Cisco and Juniper, customers like Bahl fear the vendor's core competency could be diluted. Also, too much cutting-edge technology in an area such as security can be a bad thing, Bahl adds.

"[SonicWall's] wireless security solution is so secure it's often cumbersome—we have to often back off of their recommended best practices just to make sure that an end customer has constant connectivity," he says.

Bahl says SonicWall often comes up short in important areas such as sales and marketing support, and its continuing direct-sales efforts remain a concern for partners.

"It's really frustrating when my customers can go to CDW and get a SonicWall device for less than I pay through distribution," says Bahl, who sources SonicWall through Securematics, a networking security products distributor that works with SonicWall, Juniper and others. Bahl says while he is able to call SonicWall directly if he has pricing questions or technical issues, for the most part he contacts the vendor through Securematics.

"IBM, the giant of them all, does more for me as far as sales and marketing than SonicWall, honestly," Bahl says. "I ask for help and [SonicWall] gives it, but I've never gotten leads, MDFs or assistance in generating new business."

But not all VARs agree that bigger is better when it comes to support. Mark Perez, co-founder and managing partner of TechMD, says when it comes to taking care of reseller partners, smaller vendors win, hands down. Perez's vendor of choice, MX Logic, is a small e-mail and network security provider that competes with Google/Postini.

Perez says while price is certainly an issue, it's not the deciding factor when choosing which vendor to work with. For example, MXLogic's security offerings compete with Google's cheaper Powered by Postini solutions, but Perez says working with MX Logic provides a host of other benefits.

"VARs themselves are small companies giving very high-touch, customized service to customers, and they can't do that unless they are working with vendors who do the same," Perez says.

For that high-touch, personalized service, Perez says the extra dollar or so he pays MX Logic per mailbox is worth it. "We end up making more money in the long run because our customers are happier with the services, and they stick with us," he 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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