Webroot Aims To Attract VARs To SaaS Endpoint Security

Cloud-based antivirus vendor Webroot is investing in joint marketing and seminars, white papers, training and support to grow its base of resellers in North America and attract managed service providers with a newly released console.

The Broomfield, Colo.-based security vendor sells a SaaS-based SecureAnywhere endpoint security platform for antivirus, phishing and web content filtering. The company doesn't rely on traditional malware signatures to detect threats and instead uses a lightweight agent on clients to monitor system behavior. The agents are connected to a cloud-based database to block known threats. Webroot also provides mobile security capabilities, supporting Android and iOS devices.

Webroot made a complete transition to a channel sales model over the last year, establishing a global base of more than 1,200 resellers to grow its presence in the small and midsize market, said David Bennett, vice president of worldwide consumer and SMB sales. The newly unveiled channel program adds support tools and features to help resellers getting established with the vendor to deliver software trails, marketing materials and create security services around the cloud-based platform, Bennett said.

[Related: 10 Endpoint Security Technologies And Tips Proven To Deny Hackers]

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"Webroot was established with a strong direct business, but now we're continuing the demand generation direct, but passing all the leads to the channel partners," Bennett said.

Bennett said the platform can compete effectively against Sophos, Kaspersky Lab, AVG, Panda and other standard antivirus platforms for small and midsize businesses. It is also used by some businesses as an extra layer of protection, Bennett said. The SaaS-based service won't conflict with standard antivirus software installations on clients.

Resellers must make a $25,000 quarterly commitment and obtain training to qualify as Elite Reseller under the Channel Edge Reseller Program. A typical reseller can earn a 30-point margin, Bennett said, adding that incentives and other rewards are being considered in the future.

Webroot currently has some 15 Elite Resellers in North America. The company provides them with qualified sales leads and access to a dedicated channel account manager, Bennett said. Elite Resellers also can participate in joint seminars, speaking engagements and other joint marketing activities, he said.

Webroot developed a Channel Edge Partner Toolkit, an online partner portal containing white papers and other marketing material for customer education. The company also established a module on its partner portal to Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, enabling resellers to reach potential buyers.

In addition, the security vendor sells a version of its platform to enable a reseller to become a managed service provider, establishing a recurring revenue stream from the account base, Bennett said. Scott Provvidenza, the director of IT at Infinite Group, said his firm has created a way to enable resellers to sell Webroot as a month-to-month managed service product rather than on an annual license basis. Partners can sell into customers with the SaaS-based platform, and once they earn confidence and trust from the client, it can open other opportunities, Provvidenza said.

"When we started digging into the feature sets of the product, it clearly stood out ahead of its competitors," Provvidenza said. "The most obvious characteristics were that it was behavioral-based, not file-based, and it doesn't slow down systems. It doesn't spend hours chewing on files."

Cloud-based security products are gaining attention from SMBs interested in a monthly subscription-based approach for protection and assistance from managed services. Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro sell SaaS-based web and email security for small businesses. Wilmington, Del.-based My Digital Shield launched a SaaS-based Unified Threat Management service for small businesses under a monthly subscription model.

Webroot unveiled a cloud-based management console for managed service providers in April. The new console enables MSPs to see how many devices are deployed and whether endpoints need attention. Webroot touts the built-in reporting and auto-remediation capabilities.

Solution providers that have used Webroot told CRN that they often use other tools to access infected systems, identify and remove a malware infection. The company doesn't have data security capabilities or other IT management features, such as patching and vulnerability management.