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Partners have expressed relief that they are finally receiving information from Websense regarding its unified channel program following its acquisition of SurfControl in October 2007.

Aside from business-critical information, VARs said Websense has kept mum on details about the new channel program, which will combine elements from both Websense’s existing program and the Surfcontrol scheme.

Websense told Channel Insider it will update its channel program Web portal, as well as offer an increased rebate program and the addition of new types of channel partners, such as MSPs (managed services providers), said Erin Malone, director of Channel Enablement at Websense. 

Websense will also target SMB (small and midsize business) resellers with a program that rewards smaller VARs for achieving number-of-transaction targets rather than strict sales targets, Malone said.   

The rebate program will be a new addition for former SurfControl partners and for all partners in the top-tier level of the program.  The amount of rebate a partner receives increases as partners achieve higher sales targets, Malone said.   

Websense will also bring technology alliance partners and MSPs under the umbrella of its channel program, said Kristi Houssiere, senior manager of channel development at Websense.  Solution providers will continue to be the main focus of the program, but adding technology partners can help partners increase sales and generate cross-selling opportunities, said Houssiere.   

"Partnerships with other technology vendors mean that if a VAR sells Websense as well as Cisco, for example, they can go back to their existing customer base and say ‘Websense integrates with your legacy Cisco system,’" she said, generating increased revenue for the partner.  

The addition of an MSP category will also offer opportunities for VARs to sell hosted security and services to existing and new customers, though the program is still in the pilot phase and will be rolled out sometime in February, Malone said.  

The new partner categories and the rebate enhancements are part of Websense’s efforts to grow its VAR base, said Malone, but its first focus is on its existing partners.  "We will expand the partner base with the addition of these new partner types, but first we want to make sure that our existing partners feel comfortable," she said.

Lisa Carter, president of Spartan Technologies, a SurfControl partner, said that while both Websense and Surfcontrol have been forthcoming with mission-critical information she needs to pass on to her customers, they’ve kept most details of the unified channel program to themselves.