E-Mail Security Puts PGP In Spotlight

Over the past few quarters, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has been quietly building up its domestic channel, stockpiling high-performance resellers in its new three-tier PGP Priority Program. On the product side, the company last month rolled out version 8.1 of its channel-friendly PGP Desktop solution, an iteration that boasts expanded GroupWise, Apple Mail and language support.

"We're on the move and ready to pounce," said CEO Phil Dunkelberger. "As the business world continues to develop, the need for e-mail and messaging security is only going to increase."

Indeed, the mood is good at PGP, where the only thing rising faster than the number of channel partners is revenue. Just two years after Dunkelberger rescued the company from the virtual chopping block, the firm is now 100-percent channel focused, and sells two major flagship products through this model.

The first product, PGP Desktop, gives network administrators the opportunity to set messaging policy and enforce it at every end point. The second, PGP Universal, allows them to universally secure e-mail without having to spend exorbitantly on a new infrastructure or training. The company also features similar encryption-oriented products for mobile users (PGP Mobile) and developers (PGP SDK).

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Each of PGP's technologies meets standards published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and all of them embrace major mail and encryptions standards, including S/MIME. The products share a common development environment and are fully interoperable, including use of the same key for e-mail and information storage solutions. What's more, to validate the integrity of its products, PGP publishes product source code for peer review.

"Our products are interesting to channel partners because they embrace all of the major mail and encryption standards," said Dunkelberger. "It works with anything and everything, giving solution providers an even bigger opportunity to get in and sell it to their pre-existing customers as [the customers] express concern."

Resellers say this is exactly the strategy that works best. Brent Smith, president of ANI Direct, Dallas, said the universality of PGP Universal is perhaps its biggest selling point, noting that in years past, customers complained that their end users were required to find out which types of e-mail got encrypted and which did not.

Brian Hurd, senior security engineer at BMD Solutions, Simi Valley, Calif., agreed, adding that as more and more customers ask for e-mail security solutions, the opportunity to earn even bigger profit margins should skyrocket. "We try to add value in a variety of different areas," he said. "Before PGP, we didn't even offer secure e-mail. Now we can offer a complete layered approach."