Bridging the Cyber Security Skill Gap

Vishak Raman, Vice President of Sales, India, SAARC & Southeast Asia at Fortinet.

Frost & Sullivan Network Security Market Q1 2022 report places Fortinet as the leading vendor in terms of Market Share by revenue. The company recently hit a 1 million plus Network Security Expert (NSE) certifications milestone.

As the year 2022 draws to a sluggish close, it’s time to look back and take stock of the channel performance of leading vendors and distributors and the key achievements and take-aways from the Channel Market. Starting from the widening market opportunities to a somewhat visible respite from the raving pandemic, from being the year of Europe’s greatest war since World War II that pushed the pandemic battered global economy and the European markets into recession to a year of greater cybersecurity concerns, 2022 has seen it all.

In a series of interactions with the poster-boys of Indian IT, SME Channels attempts to understand how leading vendors have fared in the year goneby; what drives their growth engine; the key milestones achieved from channel perspective; direction for channel partners and their growth blueprint for 2023.

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“Our security solutions are the most deployed, most patented, and among the most validated in the industry.”

Vishak Raman,
Vice President of Sales India,
SAARC and Southeast Asia, Fortinet


We spoke to cybersecurity major Fortinet to get a sneak peek into its performance in the channel market. Fortinet , which secures  large enterprises, service providers, and government organizations around the world, empowers its customers with intelligent, seamless protection across the expanding attack surface and the power to take on ever-increasing performance requirements of the borderless network.

The Fortinet Security Fabric architecture delivers security seamlessly to address the most critical security challenges, whether in networked, application, cloud or mobile environments. The company ranks #1 in the most security appliances shipped worldwide, with over 3 lac customers using its security solutions to protect their businesses.

In a first, Vishak Raman, Vice President of Sales India, SAARC and Southeast Asia at Fortinet, shares his company’s key channel achievements and seminal vision for the Partner Ecosystem. Edited Excerpts:

As a company – how Fortinet has performed in 2022 in Indian Channel Market?

Fortinet in India according to Frost & Sullivan Network Security Market Q1 2022 report was the leading vendor in terms of Market Share by revenue and had a very high growth of 56.9 percent when compared to its market share in Q1 2021.

Globally Fortinet’s recent quarterly results for Q3 2022 saw revenue for the quarter grow by 33%, significantly outpacing the industry growth rate. Product revenue growth was very strong at 39%, extending our position as a product revenue leader in the cybersecurity industry. Our product revenue performance reflects the strong demand we’ve built over the past 18 months across our security solutions along with the successful execution of our teams in managing the supply chain. In the quarter, SD-WAN and OT bookings grew over 45% and 75%, respectively, and together accounted for over 25% of total bookings. We believe we can achieve #1 market share in SD-WAN in the next couple of years.

What are the major technologies that you have provided to Channel to leverage the market opportunity?

SD-WAN is an alternative to WAN infrastructure that is cost-effective but historically SD-WAN solutions provided little to no security as part of their solution unless part of an overlay. Therefore, organizations have had to apply security as an afterthought adding complexity and cost. For SD-WAN to be truly effective, it must converge networking and security.

With network security increasingly important across distributed workforces, partners can distinguish themselves by transforming WAN edges with Fortinet’s secure SD-WAN that responds to multi-cloud and hybrid environment needs by combining Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) capabilities, Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and Secure Web Gateway.

Our secure SD-WAN devices offer centralized management and visibility through a single-pane-of-glass view. Converging networking and security reduces the strains that IT teams face by giving them a way to manage two problems in one solution. When these offerings are scalable across any enterprise size, IT teams can keep pace with the organization’s growth objectives without compromising security.

Partners providing a platform experience that incorporates SD-WAN give customers a solution to solving immediate problems and anticipating future needs. Customers deploying Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN achieved a 300% return on investment over three years with payback in eight months according to a Forrester study commissioned by Fortinet. These benefits include a reduction in communications costs, increased productivity of security and network teams, improved network and security performance, and increased productivity of deployment teams.

How many net new partners have you added this year? Which are the major names?

Fortinet has over 5000 registered partners right from large IT conglomerates, Telecom service providers, Managed service providers, Large system integrators and SMB partners across India. Irrespective of their market and business size our Partner Programs mission is to help partners at any level to build a profitable practice through technology and service differentiation that leverages the industry’s best solutions.

Partners are provided flexibility to engage on three business levels: Integrator, MSSP, or Cloud, which provides multiple opportunities to grow different segments of their business, as well as multiple ways to differentiate their offerings with specializations.

Partners will also find that their Fortinet support can be customised to their unique business model. Specialised support is available for three different business models. Traditional Integrators primarily sell on-premise solutions. Market Place partners are cloud-certified specialists who secure customers using a different consumption model.  And MSSP partners earn a significant portion of their revenue from selling managed services. Partners can receive specialised support for any of these business models, or any combination of the three.

What are other milestones you have achieved last year from channel perspective?

The 2022 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study found that 3.4 million people are needed to fill the global cybersecurity workforce gap. The report also found that despite adding more than 464,000 security workers in the past year, the cybersecurity workforce gap has grown more than twice as much as the workforce. While some progress is being made to expand the cyber workforce, the gap is still significant.

Fortinet has a long history of working to close the cyber skills gap and we are proud to share we recently hit a significant milestone by achieving more than 1 million Network Security Expert (NSE) certifications issued to date. Continued learning through training and certifications is a critical way to stay ahead of cyber adversaries who are constantly evolving their attack strategies and methods. This is why Fortinet’s Training Institute is dedicated to offering award-winning cyber training and certifications for security professionals to upskill and advance their knowledge or for those considering reskilling. At the same time, for organizations looking to build cyber awareness in their employees and strengthen their posture, the Fortinet Training Institute offers its Security Awareness and Training service.

Fortinet is collaborating with various partners, ranging from non-profits, academic institutions, and channel and training partners to help deliver and provide the Fortinet Training Institute curriculum. Fortinet is increasing access to cybersecurity training so that more people, regardless of their educational background, current career or life experience, can access cyber courses and help kickstart a career in cybersecurity. Fortinet is also empowering untapped talent pools, including women, students, veterans and more, to reskill or expand their skills for a career in cyber, helping to address the industry talent shortage.

What is your road map for 2023?

Fortinet’s future growth will be driven by the convergence of networking and security, the industry trend of vendor and product consolidation, the elevated threat environment, and a greater focus on offering services for existing and new customers. In addition, customer recognition of the value provided by our high performance FortiASIC technology and integrated FortiOS operating system is driving our ability to take a big pie out of the cybersecurity market share. For example, Fortinet continues to gain Secure SD-WAN market share as our Secure SD-WAN solution delivers better security, performance and efficiencies over more traditional offerings.

We estimate the total addressable market for networking and security will increase from $54 billion today to $73 billion in 2026. Convergence accelerates digital transformation and substantially reduces operational costs by combining network modernization with dynamic security that spans every part of the network, especially now that many companies are merging SOC and NOC operations together. For years Fortinet has led strategies around the convergence of networking and security. In fact, we are leading the convergence trend with a wide range of technologies including Secure SD-WAN, SASE, ZTNA, and others in a single operating system which can be deployed as hardware, software, cloud, and as-a-Service.

For over 20 years, Fortinet has been a driving force in the evolution of cybersecurity and the convergence of networking and security. Our security solutions are the most deployed, most patented, and among the most validated in the industry. Also, our proprietary ASIC technology and our integrated FortiOS, creates a unique advantage allowing us to converge networking functionality and security capabilities as well as consolidate vendors and product functionality across the entire infrastructure.

What is your direction for channel partners for next year?

In a competitive market, partners build out offerings that help differentiate them from their competitors. When defining future strategy, every partner should start by asking, How will this offering be profitable? How long will it take to see a return on investment? What are the continuations of the service? What will the business or financial model be?

We at Fortinet provide an integrated solution which is fundamental to continued growth and success of a partner business. Integrated solutions provide multiple technologies that work together, enabling long-term scalability. For example, a partner may start by providing solutions for security operations center (SOC) , then look to add SD-WAN or extended detection and response (XDR)  in the future. Integrating disparate cybersecurity vendors becomes time-consuming, reducing a new offering’s profitability. As a cybersecurity vendor we have an integrated set of technologies that enable the partners current and future business strategies.

Technology is only one part of the partner-vendor relationship. A cybersecurity vendor should have the experience and knowledge to help its partners achieve success. Fortinet provides additional enablement at the technical level, including channel sales engineers (SEs) who are responsible for technical enablement with our partners, with the goal of helping them maximize opportunities and building revenue-generating solutions.

Finally, our goal for all our partners is to know we support them. We want them to gain confidence that they can build a relationship with us, so that we can help them on an individual opportunity or multiple deals. That we can set up training and enablement actions to help them become better at selling.

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