Sophos, the security software company, is preparing to promote cloud solutions to managed services providers (MSPs) later this year, according to Emmanuelle Skala, VP of global channels and sales operations as Sophos. It's the latest example of a potential MSP land grab among anti-virus and endpoint security companies.

Skala briefly mentioned Sophos's MSP partner strategy today during the Sophos Partner Connections 2012 conference in Las Vegas. Toward the end of this year, as Sophos begins to more aggressively promote cloud-oriented security services, the MSP strategy will also become clearer, Skala told attendees. (Skala succeeded former Sophos Channel Chief Steve Hale about a month ago.)

The MSP-centric effort comes as Sophos also converges unified threat management (UTM) with endpoint security and encryption solutions.

Meanwhile, security rival Kaspersky Lab recently launched its MSP partner program. That partner program had a tightly focused beta process involving seven partners. And the first MSP partner program members will involve partners that attended Kaspersky's recent North America partner conference in the Bahamas. (Ironically Kaspersky VP Chris Doggett, a key leader amid the MSP push, is a Sophos veteran.)

It seems like all of the major anti-virus software companies are now focused on MSPs. Symantec spent much of 2011 building relationships in the MSP market; McAfee's buyout of MX Logix a few years ago attracted MSPs to the company; and Trend Micro has longstanding service provider licensing options in place.