CA Preps Protection Suites

The bundles, called Protection Suites, are designed for seat counts of up to 250, said David Luft, senior vice president of SMB product development at CA, Islandia, N.Y. The Protection Suites will combine the software vendor's eTrust Antivirus, PestPatrol Anti-Spyware and BrightStor ARCserve Backup products, Luft said.

CA plans to sell the Protection Suites almost exclusively through its Web site, employing a "trusted agent model" for the channel, said George Kafkarkou, senior vice president of SMB and consumer channels.

In practice, this means resellers who advise a customer to deploy a certain Protection Suite send that customer to CA's Web site with a promotional code that the reseller gets from CA, Kafkarkou said. When the customer purchases a suite using that promotional code, the reseller gets paid for the referral. Kafkarkou did not disclose the sum of a referral award. Promotional codes for CA channel partners will be sent via e-mail in advance of the July launch of the Protection Suites, he said.

Alan Weinberger, chairman and CEO of The ASCII Group, a reseller consortium in Bethesda, Md., said he welcomes the new suites and likes the trusted agent model because it puts the onus of credit, collections and returns on CA, not the reseller.

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But Rob Killen, owner of Diversified Technologies, a CA reseller in South Yarmouth, Mass., was less comfortable with the idea of sending customers out the door and to the CA Web site. "I'd probably lose some business," said Killen, who explained that being able to service his customers one-on-one maintained his value in the process.

A CA Desktop Protection Suite for PCs and laptops, a CA Server Protection Suite, a CA Business Protection Suite for both servers and desktops, and Business Protection Suites for Microsoft Small Business Server Standard Edition and Premium Edition make up the five offerings, Luft said.

"What small businesses want is something easy to install," Luft said, adding that the Protection Suites also would reduce the number of products SMBs will need to evaluate.

CA's Protection Suites will not be integrated, single-console offerings that install all at once until an upgrade takes place this fall, Luft said. Then, in about the September time frame, the suites will offer "a single install and a single dashboard," Luft said.

Protection Suites start between $325 and $1,099 for a five-seat license.