Partners Look To Hale To Ramp Up Sophos Channel


Sophos' new Vice President of Global Channels Steve Hale is joining a company that is poised for growth, but solution providers say Hale has a lot of work to do to focus its channel program, integrate products and re-establish communication with its partners.

Hale said Monday that he's looking forward to building a cohesive global strategy as Sophos gets ready to expand following last year's acquisition by Apax Partners, and most recently, the company's own acquisition of unified threat management firm Astaro Networks.

Hale took the helm of Sophos' global channels after leaving Novell, which was recently acquired by Attachmate in a transaction valued at $2.2 billion. At Novell, he held the position of vice president of global channel sales in the security, systems management and operating platform group under John Dragoon. His term at Novell followed a one-and-a-half-year stint as vice president of North American channel sales at F5 Networks. Prior to that Hale served as general manager of the U.S. enterprise partner group at Microsoft.

Hale said that 17 years at Microsoft as well as his experience at Novell has prepared him for growing Sophos' channel and expanding their offerings.

"In the conversations I had with Sophos, it became really obvious that it was a good opportunity. At some level it allows me to come to Sophos at the time of their growth," Hale said during a CRN interview.

Hale said that he has already met with Matt Fogelgren, Sophos director of North American channel sales, and plans to aggressively meet with internal sales teams and channel partners -- starting with the partner advisory council -- to determine a comprehensive global partner engagement strategy.

"Let's figure out what our global partner engagement strategy is, even if each one differs region by region. Where do we have consistency? Where should we have more global consistency?" Hale said."What is the role we want our channel to play? It's examining that at a deep level and asking, 'Do we have a really good business proposition for Sophos partners?'"

On the heels of the Astaro acquisition, Hale said that he didn't plan to immediately change anything regarding the network security vendor's channel in the near future, but would integrate both channel programs over the next year to year and a half.

"The way that they're executing now through their VAR channel is very, very healthy," Hale said. "Obviously, over time what we want the companies to do is become more integrated -- look at the programs and make sure we get down to one at the right point in time."

Hale added that he planned to be "fanatical about partner enablement" going forward. "One thing I've learned, if you don't do partner enablement really, really well, you're missing a fundamental pillar that will make your engine work," he said.

Next: Partners Want Better Communication, Product Integration