'7 Minutes' with Portnox VP of Sales Martin Ryan

Helping customers control what devices get access to their networks is key to secure IoT, mobility and guest WLAN services.

Lorna Garey

March 28, 2018

4 Min Read

**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies that may be new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**

Arguably, NAC as a technology entered, then left, then reentered the market before its time. While the core functions of network access control – authentication, access authorization, endpoint security checks and ongoing behavior monitoring based on policy – are important, most ended up being delivered through other security products.

Still, no security technology ever really dies, and NAC has held on long enough to find relevance anew: When there is no perimeter and BYOD and IoT are the norm, you better find a way to help customers keep tabs on the “who and what” of network access. When clients need to offer their customers guest wireless access, NAC is one way to do so safely. Enter Portnox, which sells its NAC product in both an on-premises model and as a service from Microsoft’s Azure cloud.


Portnox’s Martin Ryan

The offerings compete with products from names familiar to the channel, such as HPE Aruba ClearPass and Cisco ISE, and specialists like Bradford Networks, ForeScout and Pulse Secure. We asked Portnox VP of Sales Martin Ryan why partners should opt to join his channel program.

Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?

Martin Ryan: Today’s networks are rapidly changing, and the days of the network existing within the controlled bounds of the company’s brick and mortar are long past. Corporate networks today are boundless, “campus”-like networks with devices of all types (PC, BYOD, IoT) needing access from anywhere. Portnox’s ability to deliver the visibility and controls demanded to meet this new normal in an innovative, cost-effective, easily deployed manner is our “secret sauce” and what our customers love about our solutions.

CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features? Do you work with masters and/or distributors?

MR: The Portnox Sphere Partner Program is designed to align to the innovation and flexibility of our solutions, being the only vendor in the NAC market that can provide an on-premise[s] software NAC with Portnox CORE and also a NAC solution delivered as a cloud service, Portnox CLEAR. As a result, our partner program is flexible, aligning to the traditional silver/gold/platinum reseller model and distributor model while also extending to the requirements of managed service providers (MSP) and technology-integration partners. We are selective across the different types of partnerships, providing the sales training, technical training/support and marketing alignment required to assure partnership success.

CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.

MR: Today around 70 percent of sales are through our partners, with a company goal to have 100 percent of sales through partnerships by 2019. We are rapidly expanding and adding new partners every quarter; as of today we have just over 100 partners and growing. Margins depend on partner type but will typically range from …

… 20-40 percent. It’s important to note that product margin is only part of the revenue source available to our partners. Once technically trained, our partners quickly realize additional revenue sources by providing additional professional services and/or managed services built around Portnox. All additional services would be at 100 percent margin to the partner.

CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?

MR: Innovation has always been central to Portnox. This is reflected in our many market recognitions, including Frost & Sullivan Most Innovative NAC in 2016 and more recently the Cyber Security Excellence Awards and IoT Innovator Awards. And many market firsts, including most recently, Portnox CLEAR, the first true enterprise NAC built and delivered as a “hands-free” NAC as-a-Service solution. While I cannot publicly go through our three-year road map, we have many short- and medium-term developments that will reshape what companies can expect from a Portnox NAC solution.

CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that time frame?

MR: The Sphere Program was developed and designed to support the flexibility needed to evolve as our continued innovations extend the boundaries of what NAC will provide our customers, as will the partnership avenues best suited to bring those innovations to the market; for example, the inclusion of MSPs in our Sphere Partner Program to best align with our cloud services NAC solution, Portnox CLEAR.

CP: What didn’t we ask that partners should know?

MR: The need for 100 percent network visibility and control is now. All their customers are today being driven by audit, compliance or best security practice to be in full control of their networks. If they are not having this discussion with their customers, someone else is. A partnership with Portnox will not only bring you into this discussion with your customers, we provide the flexibility required to deliver a best-fit solution for any type company or network and deliver a platform from which additional services are easily extended.

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