AVG Business Adds New GM, Rolls Out Partner Program Updates And New Product Features

AVG is stepping up its channel game and shining up its products, unveiling updates to its partner program, new CloudCare features and a new general manager for AVG Business on Tuesday.

The Amsterdam-based security vendor said former Cisco executive Fred Gerritse is new senior vice president and general manager of AVG Business. Gerritse officially started with the company in October after jumping to AVG from Cisco, where he served most recently as managing director of services, strategy and operations, though he was also notably involved with the networking giant's channel program.

In an interview with CRN, Gerritse said he plans to leverage his channel background at Cisco to help AVG "transform the partner experience," with particular emphasis on simplicity and partner training. Gerritse will work alongside channel chief Francois Daumard to help further that vision, he said.

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"I came to AVG because I think there's great potential, a great partner landscape and, looking at the solutions and partner portfolio, there is a lot of opportunity," Gerritse said.

"I'm a channel guy," he continued. "I know the opportunity in working with an efficient channel. … We will invest a lot of energy and money in supporting our channel and in supporting our channel in selling the AVG products and solutions."

To kick off that vision Tuesday, AVG also revealed a new partner certification program. While the program itself isn't entirely new, Gerritse said, the enhancements and formalization of the program will streamline training in a much more digestible and systematic way.

Under the new program, which replaces the company's Acceleration program, partners will move up the ranks based on the level of training and expertise their employees have on AVG solutions and go-to-market strategies, instead of traditional revenue requirements. By having more employees complete AVG modules and get certified, partners will receive higher product incentives and discounts. This type of approach is important to the primarily small and midsize business partners AVG works with, Gerritse said, as it rewards them based on their investment in and commitment to the security vendor, instead of by hitting an abstract number of sales.

"Even a small partner -- which has a lot of dedication to AVG, but is not bringing in millions -- can still be an elite partner," Gerritse said. "It's really focused on knowledge about product and knowledge about selling solutions to really make them aware of positioning managed and cloud solutions."

Sam Coyl, president and CEO of Harrisburg, Pa.-based Netrepid, said the certification updates are key, as they help validate his company's ability to execute on AVG solutions, as well as highlight internal team members who are leading the pack on its solutions.

"The training and certifications validate that we are capable, that we have the information and tools to use their tools effectively," Coyl said. "The training is absolutely required and the fact that they're moving it into certifications is key."

AVG also trumpeted a "whole new sales motion" through distribution, which focuses on adding new distributor partners in Europe and North America. The distributors the company has signed in North America include Ingram Micro, Lifeboat and Synnex. Gerritse said AVG plans to continue adding a few more "specialized distributors" in the region.

The security vendor also unveiled a few updates to its fast-growing CloudCare platform. Specifically, the company extended its 2016 AVG AntiVirus for Business product into the platform, adding features for virus scanning, threat detection and intelligence, said Ryan Vallee, senior product manager.

Parrish Reinoehl, owner of Pathfinder Networks, a Cassopolis, Mich.-based AVG partner, said he started moving all of his customers over to CloudCare when AVG launched it in 2012. Now, that's all he sells from AVG, he said. Reinoehl said the new product updates will help make sure both his business and AVG are keeping pace with the ever-evolving security industry.

"For us, the features they are adding will help alleviate a lot of concerns we had. Security changes over time and you have to make sure you keep up with it," Reinoehl said.

Netrepid's Coyl agreed, saying the new additions to the CloudCare platform make it easier to onboard clients and streamline security policies.

"The changes they're making to the platform are phenomenal," Coyl said.

Reinoehl said he is "really looking forward" to the new features AVG is adding with the addition of the 2016 AVG AntiVirus solution to CloudCare, particularly around its ransomware capabilities. Also, Reinoehl said, the addition of the antivirus solution will help him make sure his clients are meeting regulatory standards in a meaningful and easy-to-manage way.

"The more we can do with antivirus product with CloudCare makes their life easier as far as meeting those requirements. It makes our job easier because the liability falls on us to make sure what we're saying meets the requirements actually does," Reinoehl said.

Reinoehl said he would like to see AVG to continue to focus on developing its CloudCare product, as well as fixing any bugs the platform might have. Gerritse said partners can expect to see further additions to the product line announced "very soon."