Managing firewalls for organisations across Asia Pacific is no easy feat. Leveraging a trustworthy brand that accommodates a wide variety of clients and provides simplified management of complex solutions can go a long way.
For Sydney-based managed service provider, Systemnet, WatchGuard fits the bill. An early adopter of the vendor’s offerings, Systemnet has been reselling WatchGuard solutions for 15 years and say it’s an ‘integral’ part of their business.
Bruno Ianni, Systemnet account and operations manager, says WatchGuard ‘is top of the list for us normally’ when new clients need security.
“We tend to put WatchGuard throughout our client base, so it’s grown from there and we have developed our relationship with WatchGuard along the way.”
The company, which has been in business since 1997, provides outsourced IT services to around 100 clients, ranging from small and medium businesses to enterprises, across a range of verticals.
Ianni says WatchGuard’s next-generation firewalls, with security subscriptions allowing customers to build up protection where they need it most, are ‘critical’ for Systemnet’s offerings.
“The [firewall] product fits quite nicely into all of our clients, from small to the larger ones,” says Ianni. “Because the interface is the same across all the different platforms, it makes it easier for training internally and for management.”
“The product works well. It has been a very good for us and is reasonably priced so it’s something you can sell to pretty much any client.”
Ianni says WatchGuard is ‘in a way, an easy sell’.
“Due to threats and the fact that the firewall is a key part of any network, it’s kind of a given that you need to have a firewall in place.
“The challenge WatchGuard has is if clients have their own preferences, or their own products, but in our case we tend to deal with clients who are quite sticky and view us as advisors, hence we tell them what they should put in – and in that case it’s going to be a WatchGuard product.
While Systemnet are staunch believers in WatchGuard, Johann Mentz, Systemnet technical manager and senior systems engineer, is blunt: if the products didn’t perform, Systemnet would switch vendors.
“We have done it before with other types of product. We’re not married to any of our vendors, we basically use the products because we believe in them.”
Mentz says despite plenty of knowledge and exposure to other platforms, he still believes WatchGuard is one of the best firewall product in the market.
“It’s always interesting having a debate with friends who prefer another vendor, and running a feature set of the products and coming up trumps. Dollar for dollar you get so much more with WatchGuard.”
Mentz says one of the best features is the ‘excellent’ visibility provided into what is happening on the network.
“Other offerings from different vendors can make it difficult to get a good view into the network and what’s happening.
“With the WatchGuard System Manager software it is so simple to see exactly what’s going on at any given point in time.”
Mentz says WatchGuard’s Dimension cloud-ready network security visibility offering, has also become an integral part of Systemnet’s offerings, enabling the company to provide extra value add for its clients.
Dimension provides a suite of big data visibility and reporting tools that identify and distil key security issues and trends and deliver network insights.
“In terms of historical logs and reports, if you want to look back over what’s been happening and get a good idea of some trends on the network or identify some threat, Dimension is marvellous,” Mentz says.
“If you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, that’s your go-to place for finding information.”
The offering also provides reports, which Systemnet in turn provides for clients.
“We pull reports out of WatchGuard Dimension and present it to a number of clients. It features an in-built PDF conversion tool, so you can give people some really nice reports and as a value-add to our clients, that’s a great feature.”
While firewalls are a key WatchGuard offering for Systemnet, the company is also using WatchGuard to expand its reach into clients via new offerings – including WatchGuard’s wireless access points, in particular the AP200s.
The offerings extend best-in-breed security – including application control, intrusion prevention, URL and web content filtering, virus and spam blocking and more – from XTM and Firebox T10 appliances to the WLAN, enabling businesses to harness the power of mobile devices, without putting network assets at risk.
“We’re doing quite well with the AP200s, which plug in nicely to the firewalls,” Ianni says.
Ianni says the general increase in threats has seen rising awareness of security among businesses.
“Malware and ransomware have become major issues and have affected a lot of our clients, so it makes clients far more aware of cybersecurity – which I guess makes selling our products far easier,” he says.
Ianni says the enhancements and plug-ins available are enabling the company to expand its own offerings and draw in new business.
Beyond the products themselves, Ianni says WatchGuard’s ability to work with Systemnet ‘as a genuine partner’ is important.
“Other vendors talk about partnerships and relationships, but in WatchGuard’s case they are quite genuine.
“They’re an integral part of our business. Of all the vendors, they’re probably the one we trust the most and feel the most comfortable with, and the one we can have a frank conversation with.
“And,” he adds, “they’re always open to suggestions as well.”
For Systemnet, that’s a winning combination.