Web security vendor ScanSafe, a newcomer in North America, is taking on the likes of McAfee and Websense with a strategy of working to reach customers through managed services.

The London-based company, with U.S. headquarters in San Mateo, Calif., entered the U.S. market a year ago in 2005 with the goal of establishing itself as the go-to vendor for Web-access protection.

But doing business with ScanSafe requires going through channel partners, because the company is 100 percent channel-focused, a strategy that founder and President Roy Tuvey said allows the vendor to reach a wide market without having to invest in an internal sales force.

“We’ve worked with partners since Day One,” Tuvey said. “It’s very much in our DNA.”

ScanSafe markets its technology as a hosted managed service. The company relies on partners to spread the word to new customers while performing all the management of the technology itself.

It’s an approach, Tuvey said, that requires little time or monetary investment on the part of the channel partners and keeps it simple for users.

ScanSafe’s technology requires no on-site equipment or software deployment and, typically, partners remotely guide customers through the Web-based configuration process.

Tuvey said configuration usually takes no more than 30 minutes, and the sales cycle is quick.

“For us it’s an easy sale; it’s a prepackaged solution,” said Chris Konrad, vice president of client services at Fortrex Technologies, a ScanSafe partner in Frederick, Md.

Fortrex, which focuses on management of security risks and compliance requirements, partnered with ScanSafe after identifying a growing need among customers for the services the vendor offers, Konrad said.

“One of the major concerns that our clients have today is Web-borne threats,” he said.

Click here to read about how Microsoft is pursuing the security channel.

The ease of deployment and affordability of ScanSafe’s solution, Tuvey said, gives the company a leg up against competitors whose technology requires the purchase of software and equipment as well as on-site deployment and configuration.

Tuvey said ScanSafe’s most common competitors are companies with established names such as McAfee and Websense.

ScanSafe’s services are powered by its Outbreak Intelligence technology and include Web virus scanning, unwanted content filtering, spyware screening and instant messaging control.

ScanSafe’s approach to Web security echoes that of Perimeter Internetworking, the Milford, Conn., company that markets its on-demand security services directly to customers and through partners.

The company’s services include intrusion prevention and e-mail and Web-access protection, all delivered as managed services.

Through managed services, solution providers remotely take over some or all of their clients’ IT functions. Security is one of the functions advocates of the model say lends itself perfectly to the managed services approach, because of the near-constant need for technology updates to fight the torrent of technological threats that if serious enough can cripple networks.

As part of its services, ScanSafe sends out monthly threat reports with an assessment of current threats. The company’s most recent report says the level of Web-based malware increased 13 percent in June.

The company’s technology, the report states, blocked 304 Web viruses, 12 percent of which were zero-hour threats, which appear before an anti-virus signature is available.

McAfee upgrades its security appliances and online testing tools. Read more here.

For customers, managed security equals peace of mind. It also frees up IT staff to focus on other tasks rather than trying to constantly manage threats, Tuvey said.

And because ScanSafe’s technology allows customers to set access policies based on their specific needs, “They realize they’re not relinquishing any control whatsoever,” he said.

“Customers embrace managed services if they feel they have a robust solution delivered through a credible partner, and that it’s also cost-effective,” Tuvey added.

“Typically, these clients don’t have the time, the staff or the expertise to deal with this,” Konrad said.

For channel partners, ScanSafe’s technology translates to profit margins of 25 to 30 percent, Tuvey said.

Since setting up shop in the United States, the company has enlisted more than 20 partners, Tuvey said. He said the company isn’t looking to add large numbers of partners, but expects to reach 50 or so by the end of 2006.