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Sophos Launches MSP Partner Program

Designed to align the way Sophos supports MSPs with the way MSPs support their customers, the new program allows qualified partners to pay for licenses via monthly recurring fees for the first time. By Rich Freeman

U.K.-based security vendor Sophos Ltd. has rolled out a new partner program specifically tailored to the needs of managed service providers.

Called MSP Connect and open for immediate enrollment, the new program is designed to align the way Sophos supports managed service providers with the way managed service providers support their customers. In particular, and for the first time, MSP Connect allows qualified partners to pay Sophos for licenses the same way customers pay them for services, via monthly recurring fees. Previously, Sophos required all of its partners to purchase new seats through flat upfront sums.

MSP Connect also utilizes a new volume-based pricing scheme that charges discounted rates based on the total number of licenses for all Sophos products in use across a member’s entire client base. The more Sophos licenses a partner sells, consequently, the more money they make on that software.

“The MSP as they grow will be more profitable,” says Scott Barlow (pictured), currently vice president for global MSP at Sophos and formerly vice president of sales and marketing at Reflexion Networks Inc., the managed email security vendor Sophos acquired last summer.

In addition, Barlow continues, MSP Connect members pay one consolidated bill for all those licenses, further increasing their profitability by reducing operational complexity. Sophos, moreover, takes full responsibility for determining how many licenses should appear on that invoice and what the MSP owes.

“All of this is going to happen on the back end,” Barlow says. “The MSP won’t need to sit there with a calculator doing the math.”

That’s just one of several ways MSP Connect seeks to increase partner efficiency. The program also gives members “single pane of glass” control over subscriptions, alerts, and more for all the Sophos products they sell through the Sophos Central management portal the company released in April. With the launch of MSP Connect, that system now automatically feeds support tickets and billing data to ConnectWise’s PSA solution as well. Sophos plans to add links to further PSA platforms soon.

“We’re looking in the near term to add at least one additional PSA integration,” Barlow says. Though he declined to specify the vendor associated with that PSA system, Barlow suggested it was “the obvious choice,” implying Autotask Corp. as a likely candidate.

Sophos emphasizes that its comprehensive family of end point and network security solutions, which offer synchronized protection via the “Security Heartbeat” functionality the company introduced last November, further helps MSP Connect members grow their bottom line by simplifying vendor management and arming them to protect their clients more effectively.

“The better the security posture is the more profitable an MSP is going to be,” Barlow states.

MSP Connect is an “extension” of Sophos’s existing partner program rather than a replacement for it or stand-alone alternative, so members are automatically part of both organizations. To join MSP Connect, partners must prove that they’re truly managed service providers by verifying that they use RMM and PSA software and invoice clients monthly, among other requirements, and then complete sales and technical training courses.

“It’s not a significantly hard bar to clear but we wanted to make sure that an MSP before entering into the program really understood everything Sophos has to offer,” Barlow says.

To qualify for the new and optional monthly license payment program, which is formally known as MSP Connect Flex, members must pass additional training programs and receive credit approval from both Sophos and a distributor. None of those requirements is especially difficult, according to Karl Bickmore, CEO of Snap Tech IT, a Tempe, Ariz.-based managed service provider and Sophos partner that participated in pre-launch testing of MSP Connect.

“It was simple,” he says of joining the program, adding that MSP Connect Flex training took just a few days to finish.

Bickmore describes himself as “super excited” about the new program, noting that while he’s been a fan of Sophos software for several years he was less appreciative of the friction between the lump sums he paid for that software and the recurring fees he charged his clients.

“Now I’ve got full alignment,” he says of his relationship with Sophos.

At present, MSP Connect encompasses many but not all Sophos products. The company will add its email security and encryption offerings, for example, to the program at an unspecified future date.

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