A corporate anti-virus vendor which has been servicing Canadian resellers from the U.S. has named a Markham, Ont.-based marketing company to co-ordinate its expansion here.

Sophos Software has appointed Keating Technologies Inc. to run its Canadian strategy, starting with choosing

a national distributor.

“”Our strength is having a more intimate relationship with the Canadian channel base than Sophos,”” said Art Keating, vice-president of business and corporate development for Keating Technologies.

“”That allows Sophos speed to market to get access to those accounts.””

It needs that speed: Keating estimates the current Sophos market penetration here is in single digits.

While British-based Sophos specializes in corporate anti-virus solutions, the market is crowded with products from Computer Associates Intl. Inc., McAfee Security and Symantec Corp., leaving one industry analyst wondering if the company is late.

“”It’s hard for me to imagine any corporation that hasn’t already got anti-virus software,”” said Alister Sutherland, software research director for IDC Canada, “”in which case they’re going to be trying to unseat the incumbents.””

“”The market is pretty well saturated. It’s going to be a bit of a challenge to gain real traction in the Canadian market.

“”That said, if they’ve got compelling service, a good product, competitive pricing and can demonstrate their value proposition, they have an opportunity.””

Keating also said that the Sophos model prefers resellers who have experience in anti-virus and security solutions, meaning they will be carrying at least one competing line already.

However, Keating noted that resellers should be attracted to Sophos’ pricing, which lets resellers keep a share of customer licensing fees including renewals. Some companies only give resellers a slice of the initial licensing fee, he said.

SONA Inc., an Ottawa reseller about to start Sophos product training, welcomed the news. “”Since SONA has a well established relationship with Keating this transition will be seamless,”” said Kelly Bizeau, the company’s marketing manager. “”We look forward to receiving the same high level of support from Keating on the Sophos product as we have in the past with their other vendor partners.””

Under pressure from Canadian resellers who didn’t like having to pay for product in American dollars and arrange credit south of the border, Sophos decided last fall to seek a Canadian partner to solve these problems and expand the number of resellers.

“”We’d been servicing the Canadian market from the U.S. but it became pretty clear to us this was not the successful way,”” said Chris Wraight, technology consultant for Sophos, who was in Toronto this week for a Linux conference.

Keating hopes to announce a distributor by the end of June.

Sophos has a three-tier channel program: reseller, partner and certified partner. The last two have sales quotas and training requirements. Certified partners also get sales leads.

Keating said his company will generate those leads as well as interest in the Sophos line by setting up a vendor booth at events like the Linux show and upcoming government and security shows in Hamilton and Toronto.

The line includes MailMonitor and Enterprise Manager, for distributing the anti-virus software across a network.

Product advantages include speed, the ability to run over 25 platforms including Linux and Mac OS, and bilingual 365-day support, Keating said.

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