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Sophos Launches Synchronized Partner Program

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Lorna Garey**Editor’s Note: Click here for a list of April’s important channel-program changes you should know.**

Sophos announced on Monday a new MSP Connect program designed to make it simpler, and more profitable, for its partners to deliver a full slate of security.

Sophos' Scott BarlowScott Barlow, Sophos’ vice president, global MSP, summed it up: “One security vendor, one management dashboard, one flexible program.”

Barlow, who came to Sophos with its 2015 acquisition of Reflexion and is responsible rolling out the new program, told Channel Partners that it’s about integration, synchronization and profitability.

“We wanted to simplify the customer management of all the Sophos products that are being offered today through Sophos Central,” said Barlow, pointing to the current trend of selecting a unified suite over a mix of legacy and next-generation technologies from multiple vendors. “We also wanted to streamline the tools and integrations that we have within the MSP vendor ecosystem, and then offer more flexible pricing and billing.”

Included in the package are Sophos’ XG Firewall, as well as Web, email, wireless access point, endpoint standard and advanced, and mobile-device security and server licenses. Disk encryption is on the road map.{ad}

Sophos MSP Connect Dashboard

“The more successful an MSP is in upselling or cross-selling the services, the lower the aggregate price is going to be to that MSP,” said Barlow. “They can keep that additional margin, or …

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… they can pass it through.”

Work Smarter

Another goal is to help partners lower their own operating overhead.

“An MSP might have seven different vendors from a security standpoint,” he says. Besides reducing program management and certification costs, Barlow says a unified system means fewer malware incidents to fix at customer sites.

Sophos’ MSP Connect program participants receive favorable aggregate pricing and the ability to manage all Sophos solutions for every customer through a centralized platform, Sophos Central, the company said. Within Sophos Central is Sophos Central-Partner, a dashboard that allows MSPs to distribute licenses, add new customers on demand, cross-sell and upsell services, drive recurring revenue and gain real-time insight into all customer activity.

Staff can track and respond to security incidents directly.

“An MSP can log in, start a new trial, fill in some information,” said Barlow. “Convert to monthly billing is new as part of the MSP Connect program.” The dashboard integrates with leading PSA and RMM software.

“We also have fully co-branded marketing programs accessible right through Sophos Central,” he said.

Back-end analysis is via Sophos’ Security Heartbeat technology, which it announced in November for XG-series firewalls and UTM products. By continually exchanging real-time information among endpoints and network nodes, the system looks to spot behavior indicative of malicious activity or malware, analyze the threat and trigger a response. For example, if a compromised PC is detected, the system could generate a firewall policy to isolate the endpoint partially or completely, based on the level of risk.

Small Companies, Big Threats

In North America, Sophos, which sells exclusively through the channel, distributes through Ingram, Lifeboat and DNH. All MSPs go through distributors for hardware and billing, while Sophos delivers training and certifications. Sophos also provides Tier 2 support.

Qualified partners have the option to register for MSP Connect Flex. The Flex option includes …

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… a dedicated technical account manager, VIP phone line and, for certain partners, a dedicated support manager.

“Once an MSP receives approval from a distributor to purchase on a monthly basis, they will become part of the MSP Connect Flex program,” said Barlow. “That offers two additional training courses, MSP Sales Consultant Training and Certified Support training.”

Scott Crawford, research director of the information security practice at 451 Research, says Sophos’ is one of the few security portfolios to integrate functionality across endpoints and the network. That makes it attractive to partners with stretched staffs and customers facing unwelcome attention from advanced attackers.

“MSPs are really struggling across the board in finding good talent,” says Barlow. “That’s a trend I’ve seen over the last year or two.” 

Meanwhile, security experts say small and midsize companies are being targeted.

“In the SMB market, the ‘it can’t happen to me’ mentality is starting to go away,” says Barlow. “We’re starting to see a little breach fatigue.” That’s good for partners in that customers are more open to spending for security.

“What Sophos is doing is bringing enterprise-grade technology through synchronized security, to the SMB, in a way that aligns with the MSP model,” he says.

Follow executive editor @LornaGarey on Twitter.


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