Interview

Sophos Cyberoam integration upturns channel business in India: Sunil Sharma

We could be a late entrant in end point security but the compelling proportion of Cyberoam elevates us as holistic security vendor says Sunil Sharma, Sophos.

It was first week of February 2013 when end point security giant Sophos acquired Cyberoam. The acquisition of Indian bred UTM and Network Company was a game changer in the security world especially because Sophos bought another German UTM company Astaro in 2011. And it was one of the few Indian security companies acquired for its hardware product.
 
ChannelWorld India spoke to Sunil Sharma, vice president sales India & SAARC, Sophos at length on what does the integration means for the customers and channel partners of both security companies.“ From October 2015, we are aggressively enabling both sets of partners in India as training Sophos partners to sell Cyberoam and Cyberoam partners to ably sell Sophos products,” says Sharma at Sophos.
 
Excerpts from the interview.
 
How much integration is complete with respect to Cyberoam and Sophos? Will Cyberoam cease to exist as a UTM brand? 
 
As of today we are in the transition phase. In terms of integration perspective, the sales and pre sales teams of both brands have been integrated and both teams share a single roof.
With respect to brand positioning, we are slowly transitioning from Cyberoam brand to the global Sophos brand. This transition will take around six months or so. We are mentioning both the brands in all campaigns and slowly it will be Sophos brand. 
 
Cyberoam brand is present on all our appliances today. Some products with Cyberoam brand will exist because we are not putting any products into end of life. 
Do you see any negative repercussion in India when Cyberoam UTMs will be sold as Sophos?
 
Not at all. All UTM appliances have Cyberoam brand. We are additionally putting Sophos label to educate the channels and customers about the transition of Cyberoam towards Sophos. This practice has been in place since November 2015 and we believe the market would be empowered in positive direction through the smooth messaging.
 
What about the branding of another UTM company Astaro acquired by Sophos in 2012?
 
Astaro appliances globally are already branded as Sophos UTM. Astaro as a brand is no more. All products will be under Sophos -  Sophos ESG (End Point products) or Sophos Network Products which primarily includes UTMs and other products like firewalls etcetera. 
 
What happens to the overlap of common UTM SKUs of Astaro and Cyberoam?
 
We have combined the best features of Astaro and Cyberoam products. We have introduced Sophos OS through Sophos XG series launched successfully across the globe.  We will soon launch them in India too.
 
 
In the two year acquisition period, how many Sophos partners have started selling Cyberoam and Cyberoam channels now selling Sophos products? 

Till September 2015, we were focusing on the integration path in a way that neither our numbers get impacted nor the partners get miscommunication (if any) from our side. Sophos partners continues selling Sophos products and Cyberoam partners were focused on Cyberoam.
 
In past eighteen months, our R&D team worked extensively to build the combination of a product (Astaro and Cyberoam). We wanted a complete partner program after the product development was completed.
 
From October 2015, we have been enabling partners of both brands in India wherein Sophos partners are trained to sell Cyberoam and Cyberoam partners can ably sell Sophos product.
 
The integration has taken time but it has been done in flawless manner. We are happy to drive the market as our partners are absolutely focused with dedicated support from us as in the past. Our partner program in terms of rebates and last mile incentive program is running fine as in the past.
 
With the integration of channels, teams and products of both brands, has there been a revamp on the distribution side?
 
Prior to acquisition by Sophos, Cyberoam had 17 sub distributors for India and SAARC region. We have maintained all of them as this sub disty model has been accepted worldwide for Sophos India and SAARC division. 
 
There is no change as Redington continues as national distributor for Cyberoam.  Sophos had Satcom Infotech as Pan –India Value Added Distributor which will start selling Cyberoam (as a VAD) from April 2016. Satcom is VAD for Sophos end point since over a decade and their expertise and skillsets will help distribute Cyberoam products. Redington has started selling Sophos products though their key focus would be on network security i.e. UTMs.
 
Our partners - distys, sub distys and platinum gold and silver partners are of utmost importance. We wanted their profitability and their share in our business to be maintained well. 
 
Are you optimistic enough on Cyberoam customers in India adopting Sophos endpoint and Sophos customers keen for Cyberoam UTMs for a robust security posture ?
 
The positive news for our channels is that we can go back to the same set of extensive customer base – Cyberoam or Sophos. In terms of milking the existing client base, we have a strategy including mailers designed to accommodate that aspect. And we have started that conversation with customers. 
 
It’s difficult to gauge the percentage till date on this upsell and cross sell activity.  But many Cyberoam customers --have confidence in us and our support with UTMs -- would explore Sophos end point now. And that’s a big threat to our major competitors.
 
Sophos CEO Kris Hagerman on his last year’s India visit spoke on company’s emphasis on pragmatic enterprises (mid-market). What happens to Cyberoam’s aggressive foray for enterprise segment few years ago? 
 
Two years ago we ventured into enterprise class customers to address two verticals – BFSI and Government & defense. We are holding onto those verticals. In BFSI, we were not after the biggest bank brands but their branches. We have been largely successful with co-operative banks. With Sophos encryption products we command a strong security play. Sophos has ‘big banks’ customers and Cyberoam has co-operative banks customers.
 
In government and defense, we are empaneled with all three contracts DGS & D, NIC and NICSI. 
 
Pragmatic enterprise (organizations with 5000 to 10000 users) in India remains our sweet spots that comprises of mid-market and SMBs. Though we would address enterprise customers too.
 
 
What can enterprise security channels expect from Sophos in 2016?
 
Our main focus in FY16 s enabling partners on cross selling fronts. The well entrenched base of over 15000 to 20000 customers across India will be addressed for newer products through the same set of partners. 
 
End point security is a huge market and network security partners at times do not shift to this domain. Also many partners are not content with channel strategy of popular end point vendors in India. We will add some of these partners providing ease and comfort with Sophos as we have done with Cyberoam UTM in the past. 
 
Our partners need to be trained and enable the channel ecosystem more to sell both brands effectively and in optimal manner.  
 
Your key message for India market.
 
We have sufficient number of branches, people and products to address the security needs of India Inc. Today we have the integration of products, teams and GTM for Cyberoam and Sophos. One of the largest R&D center for Sophos based out of Ahmedabad, India provides support to the rest of world including US customers. 
 
Customers should align with security vendor that not only sells the products but has a prompt after-sales machinery. And we have that ability.
 
We could be a late entrant in end point security but the compelling arrangement with Cyberoam (network) makes us a more holistic security vendor. 
 
Yogesh Gupta is executive editor at IDG Media. You can reach him at yogesh_gupta@idgindia.com or follow him at @yogsyogi1