Sophos Touts Growth, Synchronized Security for Partners at Annual Americas Conference
Sophos is doubling down on partner education and creating new opportunities to sell “synchronized security.”
That was the message during last week’s Sophos Discover partner conference in Las Vegas. The conference drew nearly 600 partners from the Americas.
Kendra Krause, Sophos’ vice president of global channels, tells Channel Futures the theme of the conference was “See the Future,” “talking about the innovation that Sophos is taking in our product lines and our channel approach.” The company is focused on predictive security, and has incorporated machine learning and deep learning technology into its endpoint services.
“Ransomware and exploits are what we’re continuing to hear as the largest threat out there,” she said. “It is continuing to cost companies large amounts of money and it is the reason we’re continuing to grow very strongly with our Intercept X product, because it is a solution that blocks ransomware and exploits. Second down is probably phishing attacks; we are seeing a lot of conversations around phishing attacks happening in networks and some of that falls back on employees being educated on what they should and shouldn’t be clicking on.”
Sophos is adding about 10,000 new customers per quarter, and the number of registered partners increased from 30,000 at the end of fiscal year 2017 to 39,000 at the end of fiscal year 2018.
“We also measure our most highly active partners, who we call “Blue Chips,” and we measure that by if a partner has done more than five transactions in a trailing six months — so are they tied in with us and very highly active,” Krause said. “That grew from 6,100 a year ago to 7,000 this past fiscal year. So all the metrics are there and it’s really kind of confirming what we’re hearing at these partner conferences and the excitement around them.”
One of the major focus areas for partners is knowledge, she said.
“As we get feedback from our partners on where they want us to focus, one of the biggest things they said is, ‘Continue to educate us; continue to make sure that we are educated not only on the products, but on the industry,’ Krause said.
In response, Sophos has simplified its certification programs and has provided access to SophosLabs, including content from its Naked Security blog and research from experts, she said.
“The other area that we have found successful in giving our partners access to our experts is our competitive intelligence team,” Krause said. “We put together this team that started out as a resource internally for our Sophos sales employees, and we’ve now expanded it to our partners. It’s essentially a team that our partners can go to when they have a competitive situation that they would like additional resources on. So it may be a very specific question like, ‘How does this feature line up with this feature,” or ‘Hey, I’m coming across a certain competitor and I want to make sure that I’m armed with all the information on a certain vertical,’ or whatever it may be. We very quickly and very thoroughly provide them with information on our product line and the competitor’s product line, and how they stack up, and attaching and giving them data sheets and things that they can reference in that sales situation. So that’s been wildly successful and we’re expanding that across the globe as well.”
Partners also requested more assistance with marketing, she said.
“One of the things we heard from our partners is, ‘I’m a tech expert, I’m a product expert or a security expert, but I just don’t know if I know this marketing part’ … so we developed a channel service center, which is a team that they can reach out to. We will help them customize content, put together a road show or an event, whatever it is they’re looking for,” Krause said.
Partners also are interested in selling an additional Sophos product line, she said. For example, many may now sell XG Firewall but not Sophos Central, a unified console for managing Sophos products.
“That’s an area of focus for us to give them the proper trainings and materials to get up to speed across the product line — and that helps them sell synchronized security,” Krause said. “But I also talked to them about our MSP programs and I talked to them about our cloud security provider program, and how to sell security when their clients are moving their infrastructure to the public cloud. And that was a big driver as well. Every year, more and more partners are seeing that opportunity and are not only selling products to ensure their customers are secure in moving to the cloud, but it’s been a very big tie-in with MSPs, and a lot of these partners are really wrapping a lot of managed services around their customers moving to the cloud.”
Karl Bickmore, CEO of Snap Tech IT, said Sophos is a primary security vendor for his organization and “we only see ourselves digging deeper into our partnership with them.”
“The synchronized security offering from Sophos is incredible,” he said. “I recall when they first announced the vision and now the reality is here. The ability for the firewall and the endpoint software to collaborate on threats and application intelligence is unlike any other solution. It will make ensuring protection far more advanced and at the same time far simpler to manage. Sophos is way ahead of the curve on this type of technology and the fact we can deliver it today to our clients is very exciting.”