Business & Technology

Off to the Academy – The Fortinet NSE Xperts Academy

By Richard Armstrong and John Welton | October 23, 2017

Fortinet has long championed the cause to increase awareness, understanding, and knowledge within the global cybersecurity landscape. We encourage this learning and expertise with our partner community as well. It goes without saying that the more expertise a partner can bring in customer engagements, the more value they can deliver for our mutual customers. This is critical in the dynamic and fast-paced industry of cybersecurity today. Staying current with the latest developments---and also becoming an expert consultant on vendor solutions---is not easy with the pace of technology innovation and today’s shifting cyber landscape.

We sat down with Richard Armstrong, VP of Solutions Engineering, Fortinet, to learn more about the NSE Xperts Academy and the role it has for our valued partners in this industry context.

What is the NSE Xperts Academy?

The NSE Xperts Academy is a premiere and exclusive training event for Fortinet’s top partner sales/solutions engineers. It focuses on our community of champions and takes them to the next level. Since the inaugural event in October 2015, NSE Xperts Academy, formally known as Xtreme Team, has transformed partners into Fortinet “Xperts” in many ways:

  • Business Growth: The conference provides attendees the opportunity to extend their vision, acquire new technical skills, advance their expertise in cutting-edge Fortinet technologies, and ultimately grow their business. 
  • Personal Growth: Attendees walk away with knowledge to continue their Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) certification path, which is highly respected in the industry. Attendees also develop closer relationships with industry colleagues and the Fortinet team which they use to solve business problems together following the event. 

What makes NSE xPerts Academy different from other trainings?

It was designed to focus on the strength in our partners (those that have already shown passion and learned some Fortinet products) and take them to the next level with “hard core”, realistic, complex hands-on labs. The agenda is 80% hands-on and 20% presentation. The presenters and lab team are not corporate trainers; these are the Product Managers and Consulting Security Engineers that are talking to our customers daily on our most complex opportunities. A couple of things make this event different:

  • Exclusive: This is an invitation-only event with a small community of members who are carefully chosen.
  • In-person Networking: Coverage is by Fortinet Field CSEs and product managers, ensuring partners gets to interact and share ideas with real-world experiences. Partners have access to typically exclusive Fortinet technical leaders.

Can you share some information about the events?

The NSE Xperts Academy is a global initiative for Fortiner partners across the world. This week we are running an NSE Xperts Academy in Dallas, Texas, from Sunday, October 22nd – Friday, October 27th and in Tuscany, Italy from Tuesday, October 24th – Thursday, October 26th. Throughout both events, attendees will hear from the Fortinet leadership team and will participate in deep-dive technical tracks of their choosing delivered by Fortinet subject matter experts.

The environment is fast-paced and is geared for experienced Sales/Solutions/Systems Engineers, so all attendees must have at least NSE 4 certification completed. The event is also designed to be small so attendees receive one-on-one training during the labs. As a result, space is limited to 100 attendees and there is an application process. 

How does this program map to the broader partnership goals you have for partners today?

Customers want solution providers capable of adding value through consulting and services. Many are navigating their customers' digital transformation challenges requiring new approaches. The NSE Xperts Academy is a foundational step with intense learning to help bridge the gap for partners. This Academy, which focuses on the “tip of the arrow” in our field, is separate from broader NSE 1-8 training but fits under the NSE umbrella. In the end, we believe this knowledge combined with our Security Fabric offering presents a great foundation for our partners to invest in Fortinet.

Can you talk a bit about the NSE 1-8 training curriculum for partners?

The Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) Program is an 8-level certification program designed for technical professionals interested in independent validation of their network skills and experience. The program includes a wide range of self-paced and instructor-led courses, as well as practical, experiential exercises that demonstrate mastery of complex network security concepts.

The NSE Program is a key part of the Fortinet Partner Program, allowing partners to validate network security skills and experience, leverage Fortinet’s full range of network security products, help accelerate sales, and offer new services. Online portions of the training and certifications are offered free of charge to partners.

Launched in 2015, Fortinet’s NSE program has quickly become an industry-standard in cybersecurity training and certification that fosters the continuing education of IT security professionals worldwide and helps close the cybersecurity skills gap.