Kaspersky Adds Channel Support For U.S. Public Sector Sales

Kaspersky Lab is investing more in its U.S. channel program, adding staff to support partners in closing sales of its security software to the government and education sectors.

Kaspersky Monday unveiled the State, Local and Education (SLED) division to guide channel partners through the process of selling security software to the public sector and named Jeff Gaffny director of sales of SLED. Gaffny, who joined Kaspersky in January, has a decade of experience selling security software to the public sector, having worked at Awareness and at Sophos, where he started the company's public sector team in 2004.

Gaffny knows how to address the unique issues encountered when selling to public sector organizations, said Matt Goulet, vice president of SME sales at Kaspersky. Goulet told CRN that the pressure on budgets at the state and local level has agencies, local groups and school boards looking for lower-cost alternatives to security software. The organizations need robust software without the complexity of managing it, Goulet said.

[Related: Kaspersky Channel Chief: Retooled Channel Program Bolsters Support ]

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"I think Kaspersky's value play speaks well in the public sector," Goulet said. "A big part of our story is helping to enable IT staff to manage that complexity better."

Russia-based Kaspersky has been trying to gain market share in the U.S. but has run into a difficult market to crack, said Chris Morales, a senior analyst in the enterprise security practice at the 451 Group. Morales said the company has about a 2 percent market share because industry stalwarts Symantec and McAfee hold a firm grip on the U.S. customer base.

Kapsersky is also under pressure from other security firms, including U.K.-based Sophos and Czech Republic-based AVG Technologies, as they are trying to make inroads into the U.S. as well, focusing on delivering low-cost and easy-to-use security software, Morales said. Sophos recently named former Fortinet executive Michael Valentine to boost its channel program.

"It's not easy to get any organization to rip and replace their endpoint security software," Morales said. "Kaspersky likes to talk about usability and the cost aspect a lot; they're not really talking about AV protection anymore."

Kaspersky has focused on building out its management console to handle antivirus, encryption mobile device management and patch management throughout the organization, according to Goulet. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business was designed to bring enterprise-class security to a smaller customer footprint, he said. While managed security services is experiencing tremendous growth, Kaspersky is predominantly shipping on-premise licenses to government and education customers, Goulet said.

"They're really not positioned to work with MSP providers right now," he said. "They have complex networks to manage with very limited IT staff, so affordability is key."

Kaspersky does all of its U.S. business through channel partners. The company's SLED initiative includes discounted pricing from 30 percent to 50 percent off depending on the configuration, Goulet said. Kaspersky also bolstered its U.S.-based support staff with an engineering team with SLED experience for dedicated renewal support and pre- and post-sales technical support.

Kaspersky is committed to being 100 percent channel and that means there's no conflict, said Todd O'Bert, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based solution provider Productive. O'Bert said Kaspersky has revamped its program to be more focused, providing support for SLED and small and midsize businesses.

"We found a lot of value in working with smaller IT staffs and being able to be that expert for them," O'Bert said in a recent interview. "They'll work with one of our guys and be able to understand the nuances of the endpoint as well as the licensing and what the options are."