Canadian businesses are now able to subscribe to Oxford, U.K.-based Sophos Ltd.’s new Sophos Cloud platform, so long as they’re comfortable with the service being delivered from a Europe or U.S.-based server, according to the IT security vendor.

Sophos Cloud is the unveiling of a strategy by Sophos to eventually offer all of its solutions via a cloud service. The company is known for its security products that protect everyone from consumers to enterprise workers with software suites and hardware appliances such as Unified Threat Management (UTM) boxes. With today’s announcement, it’s signalling that small to mid-sized firms will soon be able to source those solutions via a managed services option from a channel partner, and enterprise IT administrators can subscribe to the service directly from Sophos.

“It’s a platform that allows and enables us to deliver a variety of security products from a unified mechanism,” says Gerhard Eschelbeck, chief technology officer at Sophos. “There is no need for the customer to install hardware or software for the security solution… that’s really the beauty of the cloud to take away the burden from the end user.”

The security as a service approach will benefit small to mid-sized businesses most, according to Charles Kolodgy, research vice president of secure products at IDC Canada. Those are the offices where the IT staff is already the most taxed, and are more sensitive to costs of security.

“By offering the Sophos Cloud, the company is creating a win-win,” he says. “Meeting the needs of the customer while at the same time allowing Sophos to expand their business.”

The first service, Sophos Cloud Endpoint, is available today. It delivers antivirus protection to endpoints such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones that are assigned to a user profile that is given certain role-based permissions. A small agent is required to be downloaded to each device for the service to be delivered. Sophos currently offers an agent for Windows and Macs. It will follow that with agents for mobile platforms in the next few months, says Eschelbeck.

The agents identify the device user to Sophos Cloud and ties them to that account. IT administrators can manage user permissions based on roles using a Web-based dashboard. Group profiles or individual profiles can be assigned to manage security access. The set up process includes the ability to select where company data is being stored – in the European Union or in the U.S. – but there’s no Canadian option yet. Canadians can still use the service and choose to store data in one of those two locations.

“We see a growing demand for customers wanting to adapt a cloud-based solution,” Eschelbeck says.

Not having a Canadian physical location on offer isn’t a problem for Sophos, Kolodgy says. That is more of a concern when dealing with storage of personal information.

“In this case it is a security operation that is providing the management of the security infrastructure.  There should be no problem in the crossing of international boundaries.  The Internet is definitely fast enough that the distance from the cloud’s data center to the customer isn’t a problem,” he says.

Sophos has no plans to stop selling its hardware or other software solutions, he says. It wants to give its customers choice in how they get protection and that now includes have Sophos managing its services for customers.

It does plan to make more cloud modules available over the next few months. Expect to see its mobile device management, UTM, and encryption solutions come online in the coming months, according to Eschelbeck.

“The cloud strategy really allows us to bring intelligence together from different technologies,” he says. “It’s new capabilities that haven’t been existing before.”

Pricing for Sophos Cloud starts at $25 per user for between 50 and 100 users. Volume discounts are available.

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