Middle East takes centre stage

Barracuda Networks, a provider of content security, data protection and application delivery solutions, has announced expansion plans in the Middle East.

Tags: Barracuda Networks Incorporated
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Middle East takes centre stage Russell Johnson
By  Manda Banda Published  January 22, 2012

Barracuda Networks, a provider of content security, data protection and application delivery solutions, has announced expansion plans in the Middle East. Channel Middle East spoke to Russell Johnson, vice president, International Business at Barracuda Networks to find out the motivation behind these expansion plans.

Channel: Briefly outline what your focus has been for the Middle East region in 2011?

Russell Johnson: The company has focused most of its activities this year on promoting and raising brand awareness in the region. In addition, the company has also paid attention to supporting channel partners and to this end, has expanded its sales team in the region to ensure that that distributors and resellers get the support they need to succeed in the market. We are growing our sales and marketing resources to support our partners, hiring new talent to help them to increase their business, and developing new partner tools to make working with Barracuda Networks easy, profitable and enjoyable. We have also been recruiting partners across the region although I need to point out that our recruitment drive is not about volumes but about having a competent VAR channel base that is able to support customers diligently.

Channel: What has been the response from your channel partners regarding these initiatives you’re rolling out?

Russell Johnson: The feedback has been positive and encouraging for our business and we are delighted by the fact that the channel has embraced our offerings here in the Middle East. This region is of great importance to Barracuda Networks. We already have over 1000 customers in the region and as such we have decided to give it serious attention as the business potential is huge here.

Channel: What trends are emerging in the cyber security landscape?

Russell Johnson: The latest cyber security threats show that the number of malware found on a daily basis dramatically increased by 55% in 2010, with one in five searches leading to a compromised site. While world economies continue to be unpredictable and fragile, the market for IT security solutions remains robust. The continuous presence of security threats and the speed at which they evolve, mean that no business can afford not to invest in protecting themselves and IT systems against this risk.

Channel: How are your channel partners addressing these threats?

Russell Johnson: We have through our distributor FVC been focusing on training VARs so that they in turn can develop expertise in security, storage and network infrastructure. Through this approach, we have been able to persuade partners to embrace solutions selling and not just focus on pushing boxes. Security specialist channel partners can differentiate themselves as ‘best-of-breed’ by selecting their vendor portfolio based on strength of solution, depth of portfolio and making sure they have a partner agile and innovative enough to stay ahead of today’s ever evolving cyber threats. Another dimension to this is that we are also assisting out partner to jump onto the services bandwagon as doing so will ensure that they ear recurring revenues. This sits well with our cloud strategy as we want our reseller partners to go out in the market and push cloud services knowing that they have the backing of Barracuda.

Channel: What type of training initiatives is Barracuda Networks running for partners in the region?

Russell Johnson: As we primarily work with VARs, the company through its Barracuda Partner Programme offers certification training to its Certified, Platnum and Diamond partners. The company has even taken this further and offers end-user training as well. This has made it much easier for the channel partners to work with clients that already have some knowledge about Barracuda’s solutions offerings. Because the company offers online a well was classroom instructor-led classes, partners are able to select the best option that suits their time. Partner and end-user educational campaigns will continue as the company looks to raise skills levels around its technology in the Middle East.

Channel: What will drive business growth for Barracuda in the region?

Russell Johnson: We see a lot of growth coming from the content management areas with telcos, banking and financial, oil and gas sectors leading the charges. With the company’s web application firewall and next generation firewall offerings, we are expecting these solutions to open up more opportunities for channel partners in the Middle East region.

Channel: What do you see as the most pressing business issue at the moment in your channel base?

Russell Johnson: The level of skills in the channel is still quite low and that is a huge concern for us. As we have started with our brand awareness activities, we would like to ensure that we have competent partners that have domain expertise in specific verticals they decide to focus on. Another challenge is to get partners to embrace solutions selling as doing so will set them apart to always be ahead of their competitors.

Channel: Which countries are most important for your expansion strategy?

Russell Johnson: Although the aim is to grow business in the entire region, we have identified certain countries we believe we need to have in-country representation to support the channel better. The countries include UAE, KSA and Kuwait. Through our two-tier channel strategy, we are able to address other market where our distributor FVC has established offices. We will continue to cement our offerings in the region making sure that our partners and their end-user clients are well supported.

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