SonicWall names new CEO after Dell spin-off

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SonicWall names new CEO after Dell spin-off
Bill Conner

SonicWall is officially independent from Dell and it has named a new top executive to lead its path forward as a standalone network security vendor.

SonicWall announced that long-time security industry and channel veteran Bill Conner will be its chief executive. Conner comes to SonicWall from privacy company Silent Circle, where he was president and CEO. He has also held chief executive roles at Entrust and Nortel Networks.

"I'm really excited and frankly just honoured and privileged to come to the new SonicWall … When you’ve been in security and networking as long as I have, it’s a great fit for what's going on in the security world and in the real world," Conner said in an exclusive interview with CRN USA. "I'm really excited to be able to come in and work with the team and take the next era of this company where we need to go to."

Conner replaces SonicWall general manager Curtis Hutcheson, who had been in the role since May 2015. Hutcheson said he has not yet decided on his next move.

The changes come as SonicWall closes its acquisition by Francisco Partners and Elliott Management, as part of the private equity group's acquisition of the Dell Software Group. The acquisition was first announced in June. Other parts of the Dell Software Group, including Quest Software and OneIdentity, will also operate independently.

As chief executive, Conner said he will continue SonicWall's investments to grow its technology and drive a 100 percent channel sales model as an independent company. In particular, Conner said SonicWall will invest in expanding its next-generation firewall features, such as Capture, its cloud-based Global Management System (GMS), and its SonicOS hardware operating system.

"I think one of the things we can now get back to being standalone is a faster and quicker innovation cycle … I think we will see that category of SonicWall return to the leadership pace of speed and innovation that we used to be at," Conner said.

SonicWall will also be pursuing a 100 percent channel model after the split, a journey the company has been on for the past nine months, channel chief Steve Pataky said. On Tuesday, the company officially launched its standalone SecureFirst Partner Program, which it had previously outlined at its Peak 16 event. Pataky said SonicWall is currently working to migrate all of its partners to the new program, respecting their previous achievements with the company.

"It really is an exciting trajectory we've been in on with momentum in channel … Differentiation can come, not just through the technology, but also in the go to market with a 100 percent channel company. That differentiation is also how we work with partners and what they know they can expect from SonicWall. I think we will stay focused on that as well through the transition," Pataky said.

Patrick Sweeney, SonicWall's vice president of marketing and product management, said the investments in technology and go-to-market are all about getting "back to our roots" at SonicWall. With the closing of the deal, Sweeney said SonicWall can put months of preparation for the spinout behind them, and focus on running the business.

"What a difference a year makes. We are poised and ready to launch ourselves and see the benefits of the changes we've made," Sweeney said. 

This article originally appeared at

Copyright © 2017 The Channel Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

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