Sophos Launches New Partner Program Aimed At Managed Service Providers

Sophos is launching a new partner program, the security vendor revealed Monday, aimed at helping managed service providers capitalize on its new vision for synchronized security.

The new MSP Connect program, working alongside the traditional Sophos partner program, transitions the majority of the Sophos portfolio into a managed services pricing and billing model, as well as a simplified custom management platform and integration into leading professional services automation (PSA) vendors, starting with ConnectWise.

For MSP partners of Sophos, of which there are at least 3,000, the launch is "very exciting," said Karl Bickmore, CEO at Arizona-based Snap Tech IT, as Sophos aligns the pricing and billing model with the way MSPs do business. Bickmore has had a preview of the program and is already enrolling customers as a Connect Flex, or second-tier, partner.

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

Sponsored post

"This is so, so exciting for us because it is incredibly frustrating and requires so much work on the back end when things aren't integrated. … This program matches my business model," Bickmore said. That change alone will save his business the work of a full-time employee, he said.

The new program rewards MSPs on what it calls an "aggregate licensing model," in arrears, where partners gain margin for the total amount of licenses they sell across the portfolio, not on each individual product line. The portfolio is broken down into security solutions devices, wireless, servers and users, with licensing margin incentives aggregated across all four categories. This approach rewards partners that sell across the Sophos portfolio with additional profitability, building on its vision around synchronized security, said Scott Barlow, Sophos vice president of global MSPs.

"MSPs, they've traditionally had to adapt to the way a vendor sells their products. What Sophos has done is we want to align with the way an MSP sells to customers and with the way that an MSP can buy Sophos products," Barlow said.

The program has two tiers, the first approving them to join the MSP Connect program after completing training, an application and proving their managed services business. The second tier, called MSP Connect Flex, has additional training requirements and gives MSPs access to the aggregate billing model and volume-based discounts, among other things.

The program includes incentives for Sophos' XG firewall, Web security, endpoint security, mobile device management, server licenses and wireless access points. Barlow said the company will be looking to add its email and other security solutions before the end of the year.

All of those solutions are unified under the Sophos Central management platform, formerly known as Sophos Cloud, with a specialized dashboard called Sophos Central-Partner to help distribute and manage subscription licenses. That integration under a single pane of glass will help partners improve their operational efficiencies and lower management costs by uniting more offerings under a single vendor, Barlow said.

"From an MSP standpoint, we want them to go out and upsell and cross-sell different services because they'll get the benefit of synchronized security. … If they implement more than one of the products, now you're going to be taking advantage of Sophos and everything Sophos has to offer," Barlow said.

That upsell and cross-sell approach ties into the bigger Sophos vision around synchronized security, which the security vendor rolled out last fall to bring 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. Now, that vision is extended to MSPs, Barlow said.

"MSPs that want to increase the security posture of their customer base, I think the synchronized security message will truly resonate," Barlow said.

The MSP Connect program officially opens for partner signups Monday, the company said.