Kaspersky Hires Juniper Executive To Lead Channel Sales

Kaspersky Lab hired a top Juniper Networks executive as its new channel sales chief for North America.

The Russia-based antivirus vendor, which runs its North American operations out of Woburn, Mass., named John Murdock as vice president of channel sales. Murdock will manage the company’s channel program and growing partner base of North American resellers and system integrators. Murdock, a sales veteran, spent more than seven years at Juniper serving in various sales and channel roles beginning with its America’s program and in recent years managing worldwide partner sales activities.

Kaspersky, a Juniper technology alliance partner, has a strong brand, solid reputation and plenty of opportunity for further growth in North America, especially in the enterprise, Murdock told CRN.

’Juniper has had a strong legacy in security and I hope to continue to build on that as I bring that over to Kaspersky,’ Murdock said. ’Kaspersky has a strong vision and a strong plan, and I want to be part of that. … It’s a competitive market and I will think about ways to differentiate ourselves with the partners and provide value to the partners who are looking for a partner like Kaspersky.’

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Murdock built out Juniper’s America’s inside sales team, leading four sales managers and more than 30 resellers and system engineers. In 2010 he led the planning, implementation and launch of Juniper’s worldwide channel partner program. He was promoted to senior director of worldwide partner sales programs at Juniper in 2013. Murdock told CRN that he believes in strengthening partner relationships by listening to concerns and making adjustments to a channel program that satisfies the interests of the vendor and the reseller.

Prior to Juniper, Murdock was a sales manager who led business development activities at Extraprise, a Boston-based consultancy that specializes in customer acquisition, management and retention issues. He also worked at other solution providers as a sales engineer, account manager and in sales managerial roles.

’If you’ve never worked for a channel partner you don’t really ever appreciate how they grow their business, how they drive their customer relationships, so coming from that background helped me understand the dynamics of being a channel partner,’ Murdock said. ’It was a great experience coming from the channel partners and moving to a vendor. It helped me strike the right balance of focusing on the partner’s business model, yet making decisions that mutually benefit both parties.’

Murdock fills the role left by Christopher Doggett, who was named managing director of the security vendor’s U.S. business operations following the departure of Stephen Orenberg, who stepped down in May after nearly a decade in the role. Doggett told CRN that the company’s North American channel program continues to drive growth for the company, led by midmarket sales and spending by existing customers. Doggett now oversees public relations, customer support, finance, human resources and information technology functions in North America.

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In the U.S., Kaspersky has focused on reorganizing its inside and field sales teams to fuel growth in enterprise sales. It hired William Cunningham last year to oversee its enterprise field sales organization in North America and more proactively grow sales among larger businesses in the manufacturing, health-care and financial sectors.

Industry analysts say Kaspersky is looking to capture market share from Symantec and Intel Security (formerly McAfee) and is facing competition from U.K.-based Sophos, also committed to a 100 percent channel sales model. Sophos is aiming at small and midsize businesses with its security products, which include endpoint security and unified threat management appliances.

Kaspersky hired John Salamone in March as its vice president of SMB sales to focus on the lower end of the market. He previously was vice president of sales at Waltham-based video presentation platform maker Brainshark.

Kaspersky continues to grow, said Todd O'Bert, CEO of Minneapolis-based Productive, a Kaspersky partner and member of the company's partner advisory council. In a recent inteview, O'Bert said he and other partners have been watching the company’s activity in recent months, following growing political turmoil between the U.S. and Russia and the management turnover.

"The political stuff ebbs and flows and that is out of their control," O’Bert said. "We've seen more commitment from Kaspersky than ever to the channel."

Kaspersky has been reshuffling management amid the departure of some senior-level executives in recent months, reportedly due to a management dispute with CEO Eugene Kaspersky over the company's business strategy. The departures included Orenberg, who is credited with spearheading Kaspersky’s entry into the U.S. market, and Petr Merkulov, who served as executive vice president out of its Waltham offices. Also departing was Nikolay Grebennikov, who headed Kaspersky's global research and development out of its global headquarters in Moscow, and John Malatesta, the Milan-based global head of corporate marketing.

The company also is investing heavily in the public sector with its new U.S. subsidiary, Kaspersky Government Security Solutions, as the focus in Washington, D.C., is increasingly on critical infrastructure protection and specifically making the energy and financial industries more resilient to cyberattacks. In addition to sharing threat intelligence data to support global law enforcement operations against attack campaigns run by organized criminals in Russia, Eastern Europe and China, Eugene Kaspersky has said publicly that his company is also developing a secure operating system for industrial control systems.