CRN Exclusive: Sophos Sees 'Tremendous' Synchronized Security Growth, Launches New Tools

Since officially laying out its synchronized security vision in the fall, Sophos has been seeing "tremendous" traction with its partners and is launching new tools to help partners accelerate that growth even further going forward.

Sophos, based in Abingdon, England, launched its synchronized security strategy in November, bringing together the next-generation endpoint and XG firewall network security solutions under what it calls the Sophos Security Heartbeat. In doing that, the company said, it is able to improve security across a company's environment in real time, with improved context, faster detection and automated response.

For the quarter that Sophos launched the solution, it saw 35 percent year-over-year growth in the number of partners that sell both UTM and endpoint, Kendra Krause, vice president of global channels, told CRN exclusively.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Sophos CEO On Knocking Out The Competition With Security Heartbeat]

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"It's been tremendous," Krause said. "I think it's only going to keep growing."

On top of that, she said, the number of transactions partners did in Sophos’ third quarter of fiscal year 2016 has risen 21 percent compared with the same period the previous year.

"Sophos is 100 percent committed to its channel-first strategy," Krause said. "We are that in everything we do. … It resonates throughout the company. … [Partners] like the program. They like our [synchronized security] strategy and they like our commitment to the channel. They're selling more because of that."

That's growth that Arizona-based partner Premier IT has felt in its business, said partner Karl Bickmore. He said not only have his operational costs gone down with the synchronized security push, but he has also been able to cross-sell more solutions than ever before, driving more revenue to his business.

"It’s a really good story for us to tell when we're talking to a client," Bickmore said.

As a result, Sophos is doubling down on the number of tools and programs it is offering for partners, the company announced at its Partner Connections Conference in Las Vegas this week. The first of those programs is a synchronized security accreditation program, under which partners can get certified on the endpoint, UTM and submit case studies to become a synchronized security accredited partner.

Sophos also rolled out a redesigned partner portal and launched an opportunity manager tool to help partners gain visibility into opportunities for renewals, deal registration and cross-selling. The security vendor also rolled out a renewal assistance program, under which the company will help its partners with renewal sales so they can focus on more value-add transactions. Krause said the renewal assistance program has already been in trials with the Sophos Partner Advisory Council and seen "great success" so far.

Krause said Sophos is also planning on delivering a lot more marketing training and enablement tools for its partners. That includes a channel service center, a back-end marketing system where partners can talk directly with Sophos staff to get assistance on events, co-branded materials and more.

Sophos also announced a new business intelligence software solution that helps partners dig into the details of their business, including billing, products, how much money they are making in security, growth rates, renewal rates and more. Krause called the new solution a "one stop shop" for all of the metrics in their business. The tool also allows partners to compare their business to other partners in the same geography. That tool will be available to partners later this year, Krause said.

Finally, Krause said, Sophos is launching a new mobile app around the partner conference this week, with plans to extend the app to be a mobile version of the company's partner portal. From there, partners will have access to marketing materials, current opportunities, deal registration and more. She said Sophos expects to have the extended capabilities available on the app in the next few months.

Krause said these new tools are designed to emphasize Sophos' commitment to its partners, as well as build a back end around its synchronized security vision.

"The nice thing about everything we're building for back-end tools is that no matter what technology that partner focuses on, … all of these tools will provide all of the resources for them," Krause said. "The marketing support, renewals support, the business intelligence software -- it pulls everything from the back end of our product and synchronizes it."

That's a commitment that partners can expect Sophos to continue delivering on in its road map to come, Krause said.

"This is our strategy. This is where we're going and obviously we have delivered on that," Krause said. "Partners can know that they're going to get what we tell them."