Antivirus vendor Sophos to sell 100% through VARs

Sophos will sell its antivirus software, network access control (NAC) and endpoint security entirely through the channel. The vendor hopes the new strategy will help it compete against Symantec and McAfee.

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Security vendor Sophos plans to sell its product line entirely through the channel -- a change of strategy designed to increase its share of the antivirus market.

"The channel is really the only way to do that," said Michael Rogers, Sophos' vice president of business development, channel and OEM sales.

The announcement, made this week, should help Sophos make strides against industry leaders Symantec and McAfee -- especially since, unlike those vendors, Sophos is not in the consumer antivirus market, said Charlotte Dunlap, a senior analyst for Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis.

It's a really good way to get started and to start creating a following.
Charlotte Dunlap, senior analyst, Current Analysis,

"It's all about distribution and how you get your product into the enterprise," Dunlap said. "The best way to get your product into the marketplace is through the channel. … This is a good move by them."

Sophos is a Boston-based vendor that offers antivirus software, network access control and endpoint security. Under the new strategy, Sophos can use its partners' existing relationships with clients instead of trying to forge its own, Rogers said.

Under the Sophos Partner Program, the company will offer value-added resellers (VARs) sales leads, marketing support and training programs and three tiers of reward levels.

Sophos typically makes 65% of its sales through the channel and 35% directly, Rogers said.

"That [percentage] sends a message to channel partners that we want to be loyal to you, but we're going to go for the best deals on our own," Dunlap said. The 100% channel strategy will increase channel partners' loyalty, she said.

"It's a really good way to get started and to start creating a following," she added.

Sophos' announcement comes less than two months after Symantec enhanced its own partner program to increase partner rewards at each level. Both Symantec and McAfee moved to predominantly channel-driven sales strategies several years ago, Dunlap said.

Now that Sophos has gone to a 100% channel strategy, Dunlap said, "I would expect others to follow suit."

Let us know what you think about this story; email: Colin Steele, News Writer.

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