E-mail filtering specialist roars into international waters

Ottawa-based Roaring Penguin is positioning itself in North America and overseas to take advantage of a selling shift in the spam market from direct to indirect.

Now that the market is shifting from a direct sales model to indirect, the company is taking its message overseas, says Bill White,

Roaring Penguin Software Inc.’s vice-president of marketing and sales.

The company recently signed distribution agreements with Apposite Solution of Hong Kong, China; Hermitage Solutions of Lyon, France; Miju Systems of Australia; and Spider Solutions of Ramat Gan, Israel.

“”From a business point of view, the reseller channel is going to be the next big item on the charts,”” White says, indicating most customers are running Unix and Linux-based systems for their e-mail.

The company mainly sells into enterprises, campuses and ISPs, he adds. In Canada, the company has had success in the government market (“”smaller cities are a sweet spot,”” he says, pointing to the City of Yellowknife as an example) as well as the education market. The CanIt product is faring well in Canada, he says, although 80 per cent of the business right now is sold in the U.S.

“”We found that for these larger customers, a reseller channel is the best route to reach into them. Resellers have built the relationships with the system administrators and the network administrators and have built up a certain level of trust so that they are comfortable looking at an anti-spam product that a reseller brings to them.””

Indeed, “”resellers will be the next big force,”” he says. Resellers that are dealing in security (dabbling in anti-virus and intrusion detection) and those in networking (in the network design and architecture and switch arenas) should be taking a look at an anti-spam product, he adds.

Roaring Penguin offers the CanIt anti-spam solution, which is available in standard and professional versions as either a software download or on a plug-and-play appliance.

Why the shift? “”I think you’re seeing the cost of the anti-spam product is decreasing for a user so that the resellers are well placed. As well, the larger guys have taken the large sales, but the small to medium business market (SMB) has not been addressed at all, and they’ve been left hanging up until this point.””

Resellers are particularly well suited for the SMB space, he added, and can make good money offering services and consulting.

In addition to the indirect action, there’s newfound interest in spam internationally, he says. “”Spam has been largely a North American problem up until now. One of the issues is the language barrier. If you’re going to become a spammer in Europe, you have to speak about 13 languages.””

But despite the language barrier, spam is now spreading. “”We’re seeing from our resellers that it’s becoming a problem in Europe as well and a reason for the deals.””

“”Last year, spam was the type of problem where you could say, ‘Just delete it.’ In North America it has now become essential to have a solution. And I’m expecting that in Europe the spam problem is at a stage where you could probably just delete it, but over the next couple of months it will become more pressing and require a technical solution.””

Looking ahead, he says the next big trend in anti-spam technology is baysian analysis, which uses statistical methodology to identify what is and isn’t spam.

Another issue to consider: SCO’s allegations that claim parts of the Linux 2.4 kernel infringe on copyrights SCO holds. Asked whether the company is concerned with SCO’s stand, White says the company is not deterred.

“”That’s just messing up the Linux market at this point. We’re disappointed with what the SCO guys are doing, but if you’re running a Linux-based system, you still need anti-spam products and this hasn’t stopped people from buying.””

Roaring Penguin is urging SCO customers to switch to Red Hat Linux or some other Linux distribution, and to not give into SCO pressure. “”Do not pay a cent for Linux licenses,”” says information posted on Roaring Penguin’s Web site. “”SCO has made allegations and threats. It hasn’t offered an ounce of proof. It is highly irresponsible to make important business decisions on the basis of allegations and threatrics.””

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