Kaspersky Lab Fires Up Partners, Anticipates Double-Digit Growth in 2014

Kaspersky Lab executives told partners that the security vendor is experiencing great gains in 2014, fueled in part by interest in mobile security and the firm's client management capabilities.

Kaspersky Lab has boosted market share against Symantec and McAfee (now Intel Security) and is growing at a faster clip than Trend Micro and Sophos, said Steve Orenberg, president of Kaspersky Lab North America. Speaking to hundreds of partners at the company's 7th Annual North America Partner Summit in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Orenberg said the company has had 20 percent year-over-year growth in B2B bookings and projects and anticipates double-digit growth in 2014.

"There's more bookings because of more product innovation, more happy customers and a greater need for our products," Orenberg said. "We're providing comprehensive data protection that's easy to deploy and manage -- and affordable -- and that is a winning trio."

[Related: Kaspersky Channel Chief: We're Outpacing Competitors ]

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Kaspersky Lab patners said the company has been firing on all cylinders, with a strong channel team led by industry veteran Chris Doggett. While there has been some competitive displacement, much of the activity is focused around net new sales, said Kathy Kaliszewski, senior director of sales and vendor development at Downingtown, Pa.-based reseller, Softmart. Kaliszewski said the partnership with Kaspersky has been a positive one.

"We've worked with them generally in the SMB space but even with some larger clients," Kaliszewski said. "There's a big interest in security right now with all the threats and that messaging has helped win deals."

Kaspersky Lab executives told CRN that the company has been making gains by displacing Symantec, which is in the second year of a complete overhaul of its go-to-market and product strategy. In a bid to boost enterprise sales, Symantec is investing heavily in systems integrators to fund sales and technical head count, demo centers and lead-generation activities. It is seeing Kaspersky Lab in the midmarket, according to Tanya Matthews, a product manager at Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor Tech Data. Matthews said Symantec is investing in additional head count at distributors.

"The market is very disrupted by all of the Symantec changes," said Todd O'Bert, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Productive Corp., a Kaspersky Lab partner. "There have been plenty of wins for Kaspersky Lab, but displacing a competitor is not easy with all of the endpoint security options available to customers."

NEXT: Kaspersky And The Competition

Industry analysts say Kaspersky Lab has gotten a reputation for aggressively undercutting the competition on deals. It's a strategy that may be working in the near term because most businesses don't want to spend a lot of money on antivirus products that are perceived as not being very effective at threat detection, said Paula Musich, principal analyst of enterprise security at Sterling, Va.-based research firm Current Analysis. Whether having an aggressive price point against competitors is a sustainable strategy remains to be understood, Musich said.

"Endpoint security has gotten a black eye because as malware evolves and becomes more customized, pure signature-based threat detection is ineffective," Musich told CRN. "It's a huge challenge for Kaspersky to show that their products have evolved to address threats with other techniques to improve catch rates."

Kaspersky Lab executives said a new partner portal has tools and new co-branded marketing materials to help partners generate their own leads. The company also is adding more regional field sales reps, improving the existing internal sales and support teams for partners. Kaspersky Lab Channel Chief Christopher Doggett said the company remains committed to its 100 percent channel sales model.

Doggett unveiled a new service provider certification program with premium support options for customers. Under the new program, partners can become a Kaspersky Lab CSP Accredited Partner through a four-day technical course and test that focuses on providing support beyond purely deploying the software.

Partners are being encouraged to sell a Platinum Support option at $30,000 a year for large businesses, which provides 24/7 access to a dedicated technical account manager. A Gold Support option provides 24/7 support for critical issues. The Gold level sells at a 12 percent uplift to the MSRP license cost. Speaking to partners during a presentation on Friday, Doggett said the program is a good revenue driver.

"You should be talking about the premium support and implementation services on every deal you sell," Doggett said. "It's good business and will make sure your customers will have the best possible experience."

In addition, the company also hired John Salamone as its new vice president of SMB sales in North America. Salamone was previously vice president of sales at Waltham, Mass.-based software maker Brainshark. A company spokesperson said Salamone has experience in working with distribution channels inside and direct field sales. His first day in the new role was Feb 3.