Sophos Inks Ingram Micro Distribution Deal, Streamlines Partner Program

Sophos inked a distribution agreement with Ingram Micro and said it plans to rely more heavily on distributors in North America as part of changes to its partner program that were unveiled Tuesday.

Ingram Micro will distribute Sophos endpoint and mobile security software, its unified threat management appliances and a new cloud-based managed security service, according to Sophos. The distributor also will offer Sophos sales and technical tools, as well as training and support resources to channel partners, said John Keenan, Sophos' vice president of sales for North America.

"Ingram Micro brings a great distribution engine to drive our broad product line and connect it with the resellers out there," Keenan told CRN.

[Related: Sophos Hires Dell SonicWall Veteran To Manage North America Sales ]

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Sophos' two other distributors, D&H Distributing and Lifeboat Distribution, have added support for the entire Sophos portfolio as well.

As part of the North America partner program changes, Sophos streamlined the program into Silver, Gold, Platinum and National levels, putting it more in line with other technology companies, said Keenan. The previous plan had six tiers of channel structure, three levels of national accounts, various discount structures and discretionary accounts, which was too complicated to explain when recruiting partners, he added.

Solution providers can now access a partner portal for deal registration and pricing information. The company also is investing more in marketing, providing funding for up to 50 percent of the cost of co-branded campaigns or activities. Partners are given funds based on three participation levels. Additional training and certification programs also are available.

Under the new plan, tier levels are based on sales volume. Gold partners commit to $50,000 in sales annually, Platinum partners commit to $200,000 annually and the National tier commits to $1 million annually. Small- and midsize-business deals receive 10 points of protected margin and midmarket and enterprise business, typically deals with 1,500 seats or more, get 25 points of protected margin, Keenan said.

In addition to hiring Fortinet channel veterans Kendra Krause and Michael Valentine, Sophos recently brought on Keenan, who previously was vice president of sales at Dell SonicWall. Sophos also has aggressively hired field channel account executives to work with partners in 24 territories in North America. Presales engineers will work with partners to get them technically competent to deliver a broader part of the portfolio as well, Keenan said. A midmarket and enterprise team is focusing on nine territories across the U.S., working with partners to close pipeline opportunities, Keenan said.

In addition to its unified threat management firewall, Sophos is seeing interest in its data loss prevention, encryption and mobile security software, Keenan said. Sophos is also heavily marketing its cloud endpoint, which is currently designed for Windows and Mac operating systems running on PCs. The service supports antivirus, host intrusion prevention, Web security and provides control over the use of removable storage devices. The service has automated client installation and can sync policy and reporting capabilities from any remote location, according to Sophos. Cloud-based mobile protection and network security capabilities are still being developed.

Sophos partners largely praised the program changes, seeing them as a sign that the company is getting more aggressive in North America. The distribution strategy, however, shouldn't have much of an impact on partners, said Paul Mercandetti of Reading, Mass.-based PPM Associates, a longtime Sophos partner. The moves should help Sophos boost efficiency of its operations because distributors buy equipment up front and specialize in getting products to market quickly, Mercandetti said, but it's another level that comes between partners and product experts at Sophos. "The people at the distributors never know the product functionality like the people with direct knowledge of the product capabilities at Sophos," he said.