After several months of research and testing, Sophos -- the endpoint security and anti-virus software provider -- has launched a managed services partner program. Here are the details from Sophos Channel Chief Chris Doggett (pictured), and a broader look at the managed security service provider (MSSP) market.

First, a little background. The Sophos MSP partner program arrives only a few days after Apax Partners -- a private equity firm -- acquired majority control of Sophos. But Sophos Channel Chief Chris Doggett is assuring partners that the company's channel focus remains intact.

To reinforce that point, Sophos today confirmed its long-awaited MSP partner program. The program is global in scope, Doggett notes. According to the official press release:
"Sophos MSPs can offer customers services, such as remotely monitoring and managing customer endpoint protection, ensuring necessary reports are in place for regulatory compliance, PC firewall and other monitoring, and help customers proactively leverage available product features. These services typically fall outside of traditional infrastructure monitoring and maintenance and present Sophos MSPs with an opportunity to profitably increase their increase services revenues.
Also of note:
"Technical support is available to Sophos MSPs at no additional cost and providers can increase their cash flow as the company’s MSP model allows the option of paying Sophos on an annual or monthly basis."
Engaging MSPs wasn't a knee-jerk decision for Sophos. The company has roughly 11,000 channel partners. And in 2009, Sophos found itself entering more and more "one-off" contracts with MSPs that wanted service provider-type  licensing and pricing models. Many of those partners, Doggett notes, already offer managed firewall and managed router services. Endpoint security, data leakage prevention, and encryption services are natural MSP opportunities for those partners, says Doggett.

Also of note: The Sophos MSP partner program is global in nature. Sophos had a Service Provider Alliance Program in the U.K., and the company also checked in with Kaseya as part of its Australia market research. Certain regions -- such as Germany and Japan -- will launch a bit later because of localization considerations. But for the most part, the Sophos MSP effort is global from the start.

Fierce Competition

As a company, Sophos has generated a 27 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past three years. And the company is all channel, all the time. Still, Sophos faces plenty of entrenched and emerging competition in the MSP space. Among the key considerations:
Still, during a meeting last week, Doggett drove home a key point for Sophos channel and MSP partners. His key message: Judge Sophos by the consistency of our channel partner programs. We'll be watching to see how the MSP partner program performs.

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