Westcon Group Inc. is looking to beef up their network security portfolio in 2004.

In a slew of scurried end-of-year deals, the distributor of networking technology products struck a deal with Fortinet, a provider of ASIC-accelerated, network-based antivirus firewall systems for real time network

protection.

Effective immediately, Westcon will distribute Fortinet’s FortiGate systems throughout Canada, providing its resellers with a new generation of anti-virus firewall solutions.

FortiGate is an all-in-one platform that integrates several security services such as anti-virus, firewall, VPN, intrusion detection/protection, Web and email content filtering, and traffic shaping.

Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy, general manager of Westcon Canada Systems Inc., said security is one of three areas that Westcon is looking to concentrate on in 2004.

“”The company’s direction in 2004 is to focus on our core operations in networking and telecommunications,”” Smurthwaite-Murphy said.

“”We’re also going to accelerate the growth of our security and convergence portfolios.””

Westcon recently added GN Netcom to their convergence portfolio, agreeing to carry GN Netcom’s hands-free headsets to its reseller base throughout Canada.

GN Netcom’s wireless headset products offer a wireless signal as well as many other integrated features, making them a welcome addition to Westcon, she said.

“”Their headsets play a key role in any CRM or contact centre environment, providing hands free operation while maintaining a high quality signal.”” said Smurthwaite-Murphy. “”This results in enhanced employee productivity, particularly in an IP environment.””

Westcon’s most recent launch is their distribution agreement with Symbol Technologies, an enterprise mobility developer.

The partnership allows Westcon to carry the Symbol product line for North American and European resellers.

Symbol systems and services integrate rugged mobile computing, advanced data capture, wireless networking and mobility software for retailers, transportation and logistics companies and manufacturers, government agencies and providers of healthcare, and hospitality and security.

Smurthwaite-Murphy could not comment specifically on Westcon’s partnership with Symbol at press time.

“”It is a relatively new launch and we’re just getting our feet wet with it in Canada,”” she said.

The addition of these new product lines plus the Fujitsu deal it closed this past summer isn’t changing the company’s stance, however. Smurthwaite-Murphy said Westcon does not want to be a broadline distributor and wants to remain a network/telecom-focused distributor.

“”Our focus is anything we bring in is designed to enhance those three core areas,”” she said.

Smurthwaite-Murphy declined to reveal the kinds of margins resellers could be making with these new product lines. She said they are generally pleased with Westcon’s new products and services.

“”They’ve embraced it. Our business continues to grow. We continue to bring on new customers every month,”” said Smurthwaite-Murphy.

“”Today, it is all about ROI. I find in the past, companies haven’t been spending,”” said Smurthwaite-Murphy. “”Now we don’t see a lot of new systems. We see people working on the systems they have and improving the operations and efficiency of it.””

Evans Research Group market analyst Albert Daoust is confident Westcon will continue to succeed in the marketplace.

“”They’re a firm that’s shown remarkable staying power,”” said Daoust. “”They’ve survived several generations so they’re a good channel for anybody.””

Daoust added that Westcon remains the best way to reach solution providers.

“”It’s a very good supplier to a very good channel,”” he said.

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