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Websense’s march to a better channel relationship is continuing.

The San Diego-based Internet filtering and security company announced Oct. 31 what it calls its next-generation piece of technology—ThreatSeeker—which Websense executives said will better secure businesses against online threats, such as viruses and malware.

With the announcement of the patent-pending technology, which is the basis for Websense’s line of security and filtering products, the company hopes to offer products that will help distinguish it from other security players, such as McAfee and Symantec.

To help get those products to customers, Websense has made a concerted effort to engage the channel and offer VARs new incentives and programs to help them maximize profits.

On Aug. 14, Websense announced what the company deemed “Channel 101.” On that day, David Roberts, the company’s vice president of sales and channels, announced a new partner program to improve Websense’s relationship with the VAR community and end what had been a mix of direct and indirect sales that had received mixed reviews.

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Since that time, Websense has signed an exclusive agreement with Ingram Micro, the world largest IT distributor, and has signed up an additional 100 VARs and solution providers to its revamped program.

With the announcement of its ThreatSeeker technology, which not only searches out viruses and other malware but also blocks employees from traveling to infected or suspicious Web sites, Websense has embarked on a two-prong approach to engaging the channel, Leo Cole, vice president of marketing, told Channel Insider.

The first part is to use its new partnership with Ingram and its access to VARs to help sell more filtering and security software, especially in the SMB (small and midsize business) market, through the channel.

The second is to shore up revenue for VARs by offering a product that resellers can market as an extra layer of security for customers.

“This is an additional layer of security that also plays well with other products that are already on the network, like Cisco,” Cole said. “This [technology] is security-centric, and it also works as a complement with their existing security practices.”

Allen Allison, vice president of the information security practice for MTM Technologies, said his company has used Websense products as part of its security solutions package for about five years.

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The Stamford, Conn., solution provider generally works with midsize businesses. Most of its profits come from the sale of services, but Allison said a lot also comes from selling products.

In the past six months, Allison said his company’s relationship with Websense has improved “100 percent” as the vendor has been driving more and more of its sales through the channel.

With technology such as ThreatSeeker, Allison said Websense has been able to offer “proven solutions to identify threats that are out there,” which has helped better its reputation with customers. Websense also offers improved back-end and professional services that help MTM sell its managed solutions.

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Most importantly, Allison said Websense has improved offering margins to VARs, especially when there is competition from other vendors. In the past, VARs would sometimes have to shrink their margins to close a sale.

“It has allowed us to maintain our profitability,” Allison said of the new partner relationship with Websense.

In addition to the announcement of ThreatSeeker, Websense unveiled updates to its security and filtering software, called Web Security Suite Version 6.3 and Websense Web Security Suite Lockdown Edition 6.3.

The new versions of these products offer reporting enhancements and integration capabilities with Citrix Presentation Severs for security in virtualized environments.

Websense plans to roll out data leakage prevention software sometime in 2007, company executives said.