WatchGuard claims channel uncertainty over SonicWall's acquisition by Dell has driven more than 100 of its rivals' partners into its arms.
The privately held network security vendor has seen revenue spike by double digits in its two most recent quarters, driven by a 40 per cent rise in sales of enterprise boxes aimed at firms with 500 to 5,000 employees.
Talking to ChannelWeb, Bill Smith, vice president of sales at WatchGuard, said SonicWall ranked just "fourth of fifth" on his list of competitors but that its partners are jumping ship to his firm in droves.
Three waves of defections came when the acquisition was announced, closed, and this month, when Dell handed partners more details about the integration, Smith claimed.
He argued that SonicWall's heritage as a 100 per cent channel-focused vendor would inevitably crumble under Dell's tutelage.
"Dell is telling SonicWall partners it is business as usual but there is no two ways about it, SonicWall is a 100 per cent channel company, and Dell is not.
"We had a long-time [US] SonicWall partner call us up last week and they had a customer they were working with through multiple generations and were refreshing their equipment. They called up a Dell rep to buy the gear and they were told Dell had decided to take it direct. What comes out of Dell's mouth is business as usual, but after those partner conferences – for whatever reason – we are getting a lot of calls."
Dell has canned the distributors of some of its previous acquisitions and Smith said some of the most "aggressive" defections had come at a distributor level.
"We have probably signed a dozen new distributors," he said. "They are hedging their bets."
However, Vincent Booth, director of SonicWall partner Solved IT, said his firm was not for turning, arguing that it is SonicWall – rather than WatchGuard – that has transformed itself into a credible enterprise vendor over the past couple of years.
"We rarely come across WatchGuard," he said, adding that Dell's direct-selling engine was not a concern.
"As one of the top-level SonicWall partners we would always be able to undercut Dell Direct on price and technical ability," he said.
Andy Zollo, vice president of Dell SonicWall EMEA, was bemused by Smith's claims.
"We monitor our breadth of resellers and that number is still going up, rather than down. A hundred could be a rounding error," he said.
"And we have such a strong deal registration in place that if a partner uses it, we stick to it. Dell's channel business has gone from zero to about a third of the overall business [in the past five years] and it is a very channel-friendly company once you look beneath the bonnet.
However, Neil Roberts, chief operating officer of Concorde IT Group, a SonicWall Gold partner which also sells WatchGuard, was reserving judgement.
"I don't see [the Dell takeover] as negative or posetive - we are taking a holding position," he said.
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