New Sophos CEO's Top Priority: MDM Space, Raise Profile

The new CEO of Sophos says that it is incumbent on channel partners and companies like Sophos to make security more manageable for customers.

"Security has never been more important, more complex or more difficult for customers to deal with," said Kris Hagerman, who was named CEO of Sophos on Sept. 4. "We have to increase the manageability of security, and I think we have to deliver on this vision through our broad portfolio of products, each one of which should be world-class in its own right, and actually work better together and be easier to manage as a group. And that to me is one of the real exciting attributes of being here."

Hagerman has joined the company's board of directors and steps into the CEO role vacated by Steve Munford, who led the company for seven years and is now non-executive chairman of the board. Peter Gyenes continues to serve as a board member as its lead independent director.

[Related: Sophos Introduces Hosted Version Of It MDM Platform ]

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Sophos has a relatively well-established presence at the endpoint and also in mobile data protection, but it has moved to increase its footprint in the security arena by beefing up its mobile device management (MDM) offerings and adding unified threat management (UTM).

"Most of the spending in the MDM space is aimed at larger companies," according to Hagerman. "But it is quickly becoming an issue with companies of all sizes because of the world of the IT department dictating which devices will be used is now over. Every company realizes that they need to develop a strategy around this. In most cases, they do not have the circumstances fully evaluated, and this is a huge opportunity for Sophos and our channel partners."

Hagerman added that it is not enough for a security company to focus primarily on any one component of the overall value proposition. As the threats become more pervasive and multifaceted, the stakes rise higher and higher.

"There are so many different types of threats that come from so many different sources with so many different profiles," he said. "And a lot of it is effectively aimed at human behavior. So I think the challenge for a security company is how to decide how we can do a compelling job of protecting against all the different types of attacks and making that as simple to implement and to manage as possible because security technology also needs to be understood and managed by real human beings without becoming too burdensome with complexity. And that is where I think we have a heritage that differentiates us. That intersection and human behavior and technology lies right at the core of how we can better protect companies."

NEXT: Raising Awareness

Hagerman's strategy is to pursue this vision while at the same time raising the profile of Sophos to gain wider market familiarity.

"Sophos is not nearly as well-known as it should be, given the extent of our installed base, the customers that we serve, and the breadth and impact their solutions have," he said. "So one of my highest priorities is to help get the word out to our customers and for channel partners about the solutions that we have, why they are different, and why we think they are compelling."

Sophos is currently privately held, and while Hagerman is open to changing that at some point, he has no intention to rush the company to IPO.

"I don't feel a burning desire to go public right away," he said. "We will go public when we feel like it's the right time and the right circumstances. There are some great things about being public, but there is also a high degree of scrutiny from the perspective of quarterly earnings and expected short-term focus on how to deliver against each quarter. And sometimes they can take away from a longer-term, more strategic view that may ultimately be in a better interest of the company. Whether we are public or private is something that will be dictated by where we are in our evolution."

Sophos reported a record $400 million in annual bookings in its most recent fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, and reports to have more than 100 million users in 150 countries.

Prior to joining Sophos, Hagerman was CEO of Corel, and previously served as group president of Symantec’s data center management, overseeing an organization that represented nearly 30 percent of the company's revenue. Previous to Symantec, Hagerman was executive vice president, storage and server management at Veritas, where he doubled revenues prior to the company's acquisition by Symantec.