More Than Nipping at Heels

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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Symantec and McAfee have dominated the antivirus marketplace for the last decade. But missteps by the big two have created opportunities for smaller vendors, such as Kaspersky Lab, Sophos and AVG, to make deep inroads into the one-time impenetrable market.

Comparatively speaking, Symantec and McAfee are both several orders of magnitude larger than any of their secondary and tertiary competitors. King recognizes market share and channel gains by smaller rivals such as Kaspersky and Sophos, but believes their gains are limited to the midmarket where it doesn’t compete as well.

"We feel like we’ve taking market share from Symantec in the midmarket, but the secondary and tertiary vendors have taken more," King says.

Even CA is trying to get back into the security and antivirus game. Last summer, it took the wraps off its Internet Security Business Unit and launched a separate channel program exclusively around security and is aiming to grow its market share through competitive displacements.

"I’m amazed at how many vendors believe they own their customers. If the partner tells a customer to move off McAfee or Symantec," says George Kafkarkou, head of CA’s security business unit. "That’s why everything we do is geared toward enabling the partners."

While Kaspersky has made significant inroads into the North America market since landing on U.S. shores little more than five years ago, its customer base and channel are primarily consumer packages and retail, respectively. Roughly 70 percent of Kaspersky’s North American sales are consumer. John Eddy, Kaspersky’s vice president of sales, says the company’s goal is to grow its business-to-business revenue and make that 70 percent of its sales.

While solution providers and analysts praise Kaspersky’s malware detecting engine, tools for ripping and replacing existing software installations, support services, and price and margin, there’s no denying that it lacks scale and management functionality to make it a threat to the heavy implementations of enterprise-class Symantec and McAfee solutions.

Solution providers at the Kaspersky conference say that when dealing with new customers they are displacing Symantec and McAfee and they are changing over existing customers to Kaspersky, Sophos or AVG. Shane Ferguson, president and CEO of CyberAdvisors in Maple Grove, Minn., moved nearly 90 percent of his customers to Kaspersky because of the performance improvements and lower cost. Other solution providers say they’re making similar moves when Symantec and McAfee license renewals come up.

"It’s an easy sell as long as you show the ROI and value," Ferguson says.

Neither Symantec nor McAfee say they’re worried about any competitors, save each other, but solution providers disagree. Many say they’re watching Symantec take more deals direct and McAfee become increasingly difficult to work with. Some even say that their field sales teams are openly complaining about the competition from beneath. This has many solution providers more willing to present smaller security vendors to their customers.

"Symantec—whether they want to admit it or not—is worried about their market share, and you can see it in the spiffs they’re offering," says Spencer Vinup, president of Wasatch Software in Salt Lake City.


Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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