Webroot Looks to Take Hold in U.S.By Sara Driscoll | Posted 2008-04-24 Email Print
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The security vendor launches its newly acquired e-mail security software-as-a-service offering in the U.S. market and sees the channel as vital to its plans.
Now that the dust has settled on its acquisition of Email Systems, security vendor Webroot is making an aggressive push into the United States with its e-mail security software-as-a-service offering.
Webroot bought Email Systems last November and Webroot CEO Peter Watkins said the integration of the company "deserves an A+." He told Channel Insider, "With Email Systems we took the approach of leaving the company alone and didn’t try to fix things that weren’t broken." Watkins said Webroot has added resources in terms of investment and employees to Email Systems’ business, and had zero defections from staff, partners or customers, post-acquisition.
Webroot was previously an on-premises security provider but is now making moves into the United States with Email Systems’ security SAAS technology. Email Systems previously only operated in Europe.
"We have 10,000 customers that we have sold our desktop products to, so we have a huge customer base to go back to and add on the Email Systems technology," Watkins said.
He said both companies had previously run channel-only policies so merging the two channels has also been "trouble free." Webroot is now training its partners in the United States on the security SAAS offering from Email Systems. However, Watkins said this involves a recruitment drive for VARs because many U.S. solution providers are still trying to adapt to the SAAS method of delivery for e-mail security. "Changing from getting a one-off cash hit to a recurring revenue stream requires a different mindset from VARs," he said. Webroot will allow any of its existing VARs to sell the Email Systems technology, Watkins added, once they have the training and certifications.
Watkins said he believes the e-mail security SAAS market in the United States is "at least a year behind the U.K." He said SAAS in terms of CRM (customer relationship management) or HR applications are widely used in the United States, but less so with e-mail security SAAS. "Inside SMBs [small and midsize businesses] there is a greater penetration in the U.K. than the U.S. because awareness of the technology and outsourcing is greater," he said. He said also the data protect laws in the United Kingdom are more fixed; therefore companies in the United States tend to be wary about outsourcing their e-mail security.
Webroot is starting its U.S. assault with an awareness campaign to help VARs learn about e-mail security SAAS, and Watkins said the channel is crucial to helping Webroot build the market. "We have a very channel-focused product—VARs can either sell the service under our brand or rebrand it themselves so that they do the reporting and billing and build policies for the end user," he said.
Watkins said he believes that the channel is vital to helping SAAS take off. When the early companies such as Saleforce.com started, he said, they needed to direct sales forces to drive demand for them, but now the demand is there and vendors such as Webroot need to use the channel to fulfill this demand.