SonicWall Now a New Company Independent From Dell

The new CEO of SonicWall discusses what will change at the network security vendor in the post-Dell era.

SonicWall network security

As of Nov. 1, network security vendor SonicWall is no longer part of Dell and is now privately owned by Francisco Partners and Elliot Management.

Dell had acquired SonicWall in 2012 but divested the business along with Quest Software as part of the larger Dell EMC integration.

As part of the divestiture from Dell, SonicWall is also announcing the appointment of Bill Conner as the new CEO. Conner has a long history in executive leadership of IT companies, including serving as president and CEO of security firm Silent Circle from January 2015 to June 2016 and as president and CEO of Entrust from April 2001 to December 2013.

"SonicWall has been around awhile, but it has always been a leader in the small and midsize business space," Conner told eWEEK. "Now coming out of Dell, I see an opportunity to put the innovation and speed of SonicWall back in place."

Although SonicWall is now separate from Dell, the two will have an ongoing relationship. Dell EMC will act as a channel partner for SonicWall's products and services, Conner said. SonicWall is now also launching its own channel program called Secure First, as the newly independent company takes a channel-first approach, he added.

In terms of product direction and innovation, Conner said that he expects SonicWall to do more things like its Capture Advanced Threat Protection Service.

"Capture provides a new cloud based sandbox capability to start dealing with threats like ransomware," Conner said. "Our big focus is on the speed of innovation, which is very important in this space and being a stand-alone company with Francisco Partners and Elliot Management behind us, we'll be able to move faster."

Conner also expects to improve security management capabilities further, with SonicWall's Global Management System (GMS).

"We'll focus on APIs enabling more of the GMS product in the cloud to bring in third parties," Conner said. "We'll also work on user experience and the user interface."

In the next 18 months, SonicWall will be working on optimizing the performance, speed and cost of its hardware, Conner said. The SonicOS networking hardware operating system that runs across the SonicWall product portfolio will also be a focus for continued innovation.

"We'll be looking to evolve SonicOS with Linux and other capabilities as we evolve our next-generation hardware," Conner said.

SonicWall also has an interest in the internet of things (IoT). While SonicWall has no interest in the consumer side of IoT, on the commercial side, where devices connect into networks, there is a real opportunity, Conner said, adding that SonicWall's hardware appliances can help secure networks against potential risks from IoT threats.

The SonicWall hardware portfolio also includes the SuperMassive next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) that can scale up to 40G bps of firewall throughput on a single appliance. At the other end of the spectrum is the TZ series, a unified threat management (UTM) appliance targeted at the small- and midsize-business (SMB) segment.

"I'm not going to chase the super high-end data centers; our strength is in large campus distributed networks," Conner said. "SuperMassive plays in that area, but you won't see us trying to compete with Juniper, Cisco or Palo Alto at the very high-end data centers."

SonicWall's strength will be more in the mid-tier of data centers as well as looking at endpoints in campuses.

Overall, the big push that Conner is making as he leads SonicWall in the post-Dell era is to re-invigorate the company as a force in the network security market.

"The big challenge is to get the engine running at the speed of the market," Conner said. "Competition has gotten bigger over the years and our job now is to get SonicWall back on the growth engine and back in the leadership category that it was before."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.