Sophos enters Canadian market

There is a reason you have never heard of Sophos, a Lynnfield, Mass.-based developer of anti-virus software. It is because the company refuses to hype viruses.

Sophos, unlike its competitors, wants to be the “”voice of reason in the wild,”” said Chris Wraight, technology consultant at Sophos.


do not blanket the market and tell everyone about a certain virus. We only tell our own customers and only if it is a dangerous virus,”” Wraight said.

According to him, Sophos sees about 35 viruses a day, but they did not want to inform their customer base on every one. Instead we choose two or three viruses that would be the most dangerous and update them that way, he said.

Sophos wants to bring its unique brand of anti-virus to the Canadian market place. They have plans to open an office in Canada either in Toronto or Montreal. However, their is no timetable currently for when the office will open.

“”Our unique selling proposition is service and support. We have a check summary technology that does inventory checks and allows it to monitor it for viruses and for better performance,”” Wraight said.

Sophos also focuses on the network and not the individual user. Sophos software is not available at retail, for example, and the firm has no plans to start selling at retail.

The reason for not being at retail is too many users. With too many users, the company would be unable to maintain their current level of service and support to their customer base, Wraight said.

The other reason Canadian VARs may never have heard of Sophos could be that the company is still predominantly a direct sales company in Canada. According to Wraight, indirect company revenues are at 40 per cent in Canada, while the rest of the world they have a 50/50 split between direct and channel sales.

But, Sophos is trying to change that. They have hired ex-Symantec executive DeMarie Malnar, as Sophos’s new channel manager.

Part of Malnar’s mandate is to develop a reseller plan and to sign more quality VARs, she said. The plan will have Sophos VARs work in tandem with Sophos’ sales and marketing teams.

“”We want to joint market with key partners in Canada. They will work with the Sophos marketing team because we know how to sell Sophos,”” she said.

The three-tiered plan has a scaling system for margin. In tier one, for example, a VAR can make five per cent margin on the product, but then slide upwards to 35 per cent margin.

Another aspect of the plan is the Sophos rate of renewal. It is currently at 85 per cent and Malnar said that this renewal rate is something VARs can count on year after year.

Resellers interested in the Sophos reseller plan must submit a six-month sales plan.

One of Malnar’s challenges she said will be to hire a dedicated Sophos channel person in Canada to manage all the Canadian VARs.

Distribution will not be part of this plan, according to Malnar. She said that distribution adds another tier.

“”VARs need to sell with experience and if we introduce another tier we would lose a level of quality with that additional level,”” she said.

Sophos also plans to create channel bundles with other vendors such as CihperTrust, ClearSwift and Sybari.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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