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Security specialist Sophos has overhauled its channel program as part of a sweeping effort to be easier to do business with and to increase profits.

Sophos announced a simplified discount structure and deal-registration program so the company’s channel partners can spend less time obtaining special pricing when involved in competitive bids, said Kendra Krause, vice president of channel sales for North America at Sophos.

“Before we used what would have to be best described as a high-touch model to respond to those situations,” Krause said.

As part of the effort, partners that register deals with Sophos will not only see higher profit margins, Sophos will fund up to 50 percent of all branded co-marketing activities.

In addition to simplifying the overall program, Sophos is also committed to giving partners full access to every product in the company’s line, including its latest data encryption management offerings. In fact, Krause said one of the things that differentiates Sophos most is that, in addition to offering antivirus software and unified threat management (UTM) appliances, Sophos also offers encryption software and services that extend the portfolio of products that partners can sell under a common management framework.

“The more we can move under a single pane of glass, the better,” said Sam Heard, president of Data Integrity Services, a longtime Sophos channel partner.

The simplification of Sophos’ channel program follows its recent announcement of the acquisition of Cyberoam Technologies, a rival provider of UTM appliances. While that acquisition may present some marketing challenges, Krause notes that the UTM market itself is growing rapidly as larger enterprise IT organizations embrace UTM to reduce the total cost of IT security.

When Sophos acquired Astaro in 2011, there was no existing UTM platform. This latest acquisition is not as clear-cut in terms of product overlap between the two UTM platforms.

“When Sophos acquired Astaro, we were happier than a pig in a mud hole,” said Heard. “With this latest acquisition, I would say we’re cautiously optimistic.”

Finally, as part of an effort to increase its base of channel partners, Sophos also announced it has inked a distribution agreement with Ingram Micro.

With all the concern about the delivery of cloud security services that have the potential to negatively affect channel partners, many solution providers are evaluating their security vendor options. In that context, it’s clear that being 100 percent channel-focused matters now more than ever.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.