Sophos: Taking Security Market Share?
Sometimes simplicity works. Consider the situation at Sophos — the privately held anti-virus and endpoint security specialist. The company’s strategy is pretty simple: Pure channel. Pure security. And soon… a formalized approach to managed services, according to Channel Chief Chris Doggett (pictured). Here’s the scoop.
Actually, this isn’t a pure scoop. Doggett has been on the line speaking with a range of media lately, The VAR Guy included.
At first glance, Doggett’s statements are pretty consistent from one interview to the next. His key themes:
- Sophos partners are cutting the amount of rival software they sell from Symantec (down double-digits from last year) and McAfee (down 9%), Doggett says.
- The company’s revised partner program, launched in April 2009, offers deal registration and margin protection initiatives. Those themes inspire partner loyalty, Doggett adds.
- And as Doggett puts it: “We’re 100 percent channel. Our revenues are their revenues — partner revenues, that is. For the first time in our history, they [Symantec and McAfee] are responding to competitive pressure we’re placing on them in the channel.”
If you listen closely, Doggett hints that more moves are coming — including a formalized managed services partner program.
In the meantime, Symantec and McAfee aren’t exactly running scared.
During the Nov. 2009 Symantec Partner Engage conference in Orlando, CEO Enrique Salem and Channel Chief Randy Cochran dismissed Sophos’ Data Loss Prevention strategy. Meanwhile, McAfee has been busy digesting MX Logic — a buyout that has earned mostly positive feedback from SaaS partners.
Still, the Sophos “pure channel” strategy seems to be winning converts. In separate interviews with The VAR Guy and, um, Channel Insider, Doggett pointed to an IDC study suggesting considerable growth at Sophos.
Alas, IDC has yet to return The VAR Guy’s phone calls seeking to confirm the stats… Perhaps calling collect wasn’t such a good idea.
Meanwhile, Sophos rivals continue to balance their direct and indirect sales messages. Just this week, Symantec announced plans to pursue new routes to customers through Amazon Web Services. Will the Amazon move involve channel partners? Hmmm… The VAR Guy plans to ask Symantec’s Cochran.
Elsewhere, McAfee concedes it’s selling some managed services directly — though partners are involved in “most” McAfee managed services transactions.
Therein lies a clue to Doggett’s next move. Right now, Doggett says, Sophos has an “informal” partner approach for managed service providers. But it’s safe to expect Sophos to formalize its MSP partner efforts in the next few months, The VAR Guy believes.