After a merry-go-round of distributors and some very public attacks from within the reseller community over support, network security appliance vendor SonicWall has dispatched two of its senior brass down under to soothe the nerves of jaded customers and agents and announce that staff for Australia will be doubled – from two to four.
Acknowledging that support issues had recently stifled uptake here, SonicWall's global vice president of customer services Mike Anderson was especially keen to sell the message that a new remote learning facility for users, resellers and distributors called Sonic University would substantially enhance support.
"Maintaining a staff of two people doesn't scale broadly with what we have in the ANZ marketplace in terms of services. What we are able to provide, in a unique way, are implementation and consulting and professional services. All three of those services will be delivered remotely through two-tier distribution. Because we have such a robust back-end infrastructure, we are able to do that very easily," Anderson said.
The new support model will allow some of those selling SonicWall and selected key local clients such as hosting companies to access both 24x7 hotline support from the US, in addition to being able to access the Sonic University e-learning facility free of charge.
Self-maintaining end users however, will have to pay for the new services - although SonicWall’s new regional manager for Australia, New Zealand and Oceana, Tim Dickinson, was unable to indicate what end users would pay.
Dickinson said distributor pricing had been finalised, but declined to give any further figures.
Meanwhile, SonicWall's Asia Pacific vice president Gary Bacon said the vendor's toll-free support hotline would continue to port back to the US and be staffed by professionals with an intimate knowledge of the security appliances.
"For [clients] that manage security for other customers, we are able to organise ourselves in a way that is unique. Some of our most important customers are based in Australia. For those customers we assign a support services engineer and that person works remotely.
"The time to resolution is very fast. If you look at our competitors, particularly Cisco, very few are able to offer those services as a matter of course. They start out at $250,000 per annum," Bacon said, referring to his competition's pricing.
Bacon said the hotline would be staffed by either SonicWall staff or specialist contractors from Phoenix-based Vincity Networks.
Bacon added that the remote learning model would also allow students to test themselves and gain accreditation.
"SonicWall has around 10,000 resellers globally and it is very difficult to get lab-based or instructor-based [training]. So we have built a comprehensive suite of online training. It's very rich, there's a lot of interactivity and there's certification available," Bacon said.
SonicWall is currently distributed by Lan 1 and Dovetail in Australia.