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Fortinet has shaken up its channel strategy, axing more than half its distribution partners and realigning its channel program.

The UTM (Unified Threat Management) vendor said it was looking to make its channel more effective and 10 distribution partners was too many. The vendor has now axed eight of these partnerships, including agreements with Westcon and Synnex, and instead appointed Ingram Micro and Tech Data. This leaves Fortinet with two specialist distributors—Alternative Technology and FineTech—alongside the two broad liners.

“Consolidation in our distribution channel had to take place so we looked at what we had and realized we were missing things that Tech Data and Ingram could offer us,” said Mike Valentine, vice president of channel sales for Fortinet, of Sunnyvale, Calif.

He said that axing Westcon and Synnex was a tough decision, especially since Westcon had partnered with Fortinet since 2002. “I doubt they are feeling good about it. But Ingram and Tech Data bring us a global reach and logistical help, and the way they both segment their channels is what we are looking for,” he added.

Holly Garcia, senior director of vendor management at Santa Ana, Calif.-based Ingram Micro, said UTM is a hot opportunity for solution providers. “Adding Fortinet brings more choice to our partners. Our key focus areas for Fortinet will be recruitment and enablement, as well as training and education. Our customer communities such as VTN and GovEd Alliance will play a critical sales and marketing role in Fortinet’s growth strategy.”

She said the distributor will look to help Fortinet, which currently focuses on the small and midsize business market, to expand into the enterprise sector.

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“What’s great about UTM is the services that VARs can wrap around the technology. It’s not a point product sale and carries with it an incredible well of services for VARs to deliver—all of which command high margins and recurring revenues. We will also work with Fortinet in this regard with programs such as deal registration,” Garcia said.

Valentine said the deal registration element of Fortinet’s channel program has also been updated as part of a revamp, which also includes a new direct marketing reseller program. “We have opened out our low end so all resellers, whether they just want to sell one or two products, have access to them without having to jump through all the hoops of becoming accredited. They will still have deal registration, which we have redefined to fit better with partners.”

He said it is part of a move by the vendor to focus on its higher-end deals and higher-level partners. “We want to show the advantages of being at the platinum level—such as marketing and technical support, and closer account management.” To this end he added, Fortinet has also increased channel resources by more than 120 percent with more focused territory managers.