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Kaspersky Kicks Off Program for Security VARs
By Jacqueline Emigh, Ziff Davis Internet


Hoping to grab a bigger piece of the world’s growing security software pie, Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab has launched a North American resellers program that departs from tradition in several ways.

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“We’ll be the only anti-virus company to do all of our sales in North America through third-party resellers,” said Randy Drawas, Kaspersky’s vice president of marketing, in an interview with The Channel Insider.

Instead, bigger players tend to use a combination of direct and indirect channels. Also, in contrast with Kaspersky’s plan, the giant security software makers typically focus on large distributors rather than individual VARs, Drawas said.

Kaspersky is best known, so far, in the anti-virus software space, where it competes against the likes of Symantec Corp., Trend Micro Inc., and McAfee Corp. But the vendor has also been stepping into the anti-spam, anti-spyware and firewall arenas.

Although its labs have remained in Russia, Kaspersky has already been making inroads into North America. But in the past, most of the company’s North American sales were performed through distributors and OEMs, according to Drawas.

Now the security software specialist has opened an office in Woburn, Mass., which employs about 20 people, most of them in sales and technical support.

“At present, we’re geographically structured,” Drawas said. The staff includes five account managers, who will work directly with VARs based in five different territories in North America.

PointerClick here to read more about Kaspersky’s moves in the United States.

“I’ve been hearing very good things about Kaspersky’s products. It’ll be interesting to see how the company gains greater exposure on this continent,” said Michael Lipham, a research analyst at Robert Frances Group.

The security market is booming, analysts agree. According to a recent study by IDC, the world market for SCM (secure content management) will climb from $4.2 billion in 2004 to $7.5 billion in 2008. IDC named Symantec the leader in both the SCM and corporate and consumer anti-virus markets. Infonetics Research foresees a $5.5 billion market for network security appliance and software in 2008, up from $3.7 billion in 2004.

“But although the market is growing, it’s crowded and very tough, with a lot of ongoing research required to produce effective products,” Lipham said.

As Drawas sees it, Kaspersky will pick up market share by providing a resellers’ program that stands out from the pack.

“We will qualify leads that come into our office and then distribute all of the qualified leads to [partners],” he said.

“And in something else unique in the [anti-virus] industry, all margins will be guaranteed,” Drawas said.

Anti-virus software tends to be subscription-based, and other vendors pay higher margins on initial sales than on renewals, according to Drawas.

Kaspersky, on the other hand, will pay the same margins for both types of sales. “So all annual maintenance will be fully credited to the reseller.” Margins, however, will vary according to specific product.

The vendor plans to provide optional paid sales training—on “how to sell our products, and into what environments”—and technical product training

“Essentially, we will manage the sales process, including pre-sales and post-sales,” Drawas said.

But the program will allow for flexibility, too, according to the channel exec. “We’ll do whatever the partner feels is appropriate. If resellers want help with a sales call, we’ll be here for them, but only if they’d like our help,” he said.

Kaspersky is offering a three-level program: Accredited Partner, Certified Partner and Premier Partner. Optional paid training will be available at the Accredited level. An optional virus update feed will be available to Certified resellers.

At the Certified and Premier levels, VARs will receive ongoing training and a dedicated Kaspersky account and support manager. The Premier level will roll in the anti-virus feed. Also at the Premier level, resellers will work toward quarterly revenue targets, Drawas said.

     
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