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Sophos CEO, Kris Hagerman, on the channel, and a world of Cloud-based security

Allan Swann | May 26, 2014
Sophos CEO Kris Hagerman has overseen a year of super growth, which he claims is due to a new Cloud management platform, a channel first distribution model and the stumbling of the big security players.

It's a capability that none of the other players has.

What about your channel strategy, how is that different to the big players?

The strategy hasn't changed too much from last year, in that we're a partner first company.

The only difference this year has been that we've announced a whole host of new dealer programs, and initiatives we're taking in our own organisation to support that.

That doesn't sound to dissimilar to your rivals, why should a reseller choose Sophos over a Symantec, a McAfee or a Trend Micro?

Firstly, we're growing — any partner loves to be associated with a vendor that is growing. We're doubling down and doubling down again on the channel as our only route to market.

Those other companies have mixed models — some high end accounts might sell direct, or there's some cut-off threshold where they work with the channel - that never happens with us, and the response from our partners say that is key.

It is a particular problem at McAfee and Symantec right now, and it's becoming a big problem at Sonicwall's takeover by Dell. Dell is perhaps 70-75 per cent direct, and SonicWall used to be virtually 100 per cent channel. They're still figuring it out.

So you feel you've poached a few of these major vendors customers?

We had a number of former Symantec partners at our conference and they've told us: 'hey, you're growing, I like this complete security solution, I like the simplicity of it, I love the SMB and midmarket focus... and the vendor I used to rely on to build my business has become more and more of a direct company.' They're seeing a lot of business that they would've gotten themselves in the past being diverted to direct, where they don't get any compensation for it.

We've seen that response across several vendors, Symantec, McAfee, TrendMicro and the rest.

You've mentioned your former employer Symantec a fair bit - what do you think they're doing wrong?

I think Symantec is a mess right now. Part of it is because they're onto their third CEO in three years, so that is never easy. But, more importantly, Symantec, at a strategic level, just can't decide on what they're going to be the best in the world at.

Are they a consumer focused company that sells in retail? Are they a storage and server infrastructure company through Veritas, that focuses on selling to the global 2000? Or are they a diversified enterprise security company that sells some 200 overlapping products, of different flavours, to everybody from a 10 person organisation to HSBC and Citigroup?

It's just a terribly confused place at the moment.


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