A year after narrowly missing out on the top honors in the Client Security Software category last year (losing by just over a point to Kaspersky Lab), Sophos climbed over the top in this year’s ARC.

 

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The security company posted top scores in product innovation (94.8) and support (85.5), but Sophos lost the partnership subcategory to none other than Kaspersky.

Sophos has built a strong reputation for sharp endpoint security software and an expanding line of products, thanks to its recent acquisition of unified threat management (UTM) player Astaro Networks. Now, the security vendor is stepping up its partnership plans with the addition of a new channel chief and plans to expand its partner ranks.

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In May, Sophos hired Steve Hale as its new vice president of global channels; Hale previously served as vice president of global channel sales at Novell (NSDQ:NOVL)’s Security Systems and Operating Platform Group and also worked at Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) and F5 Networks.

“Fundamentally, we have a sound channel program, but we are absolutely working on some things to make it even better,” Hale said. Some of those changes include targeting more security-focused solution providers instead of traditional software resellers. As Sophos builds out its product line into areas like network security and UTM, Hale said the vendor will need to bring in experienced partners.

“If we want to build the next evolution of the partner program, then we need to find ways to invest more in these kinds of partners,” he said. “Security is no longer just a point product.”

Sophos is also taking a more aggressive approach to the small and midsize business market; the vendor recently signed a deal with D&H Distributing that Hale said will help Sophos expand its channel reach. “D&H is an immense set of pipes that branch out to hundreds and hundreds of security VARs,” he said. “With the addition of Astaro, our product line is filling out and that’s made us a lot more relevant in security conversations.”