Our goal is to enhance “Channel First” sales model: Sunil Sharma

In a candid interaction with the DQ Channels, Sunil Sharma, VP, Sales & Operations, Sophos, India and SAARC, talks about the go to market strategy of the Endpoint Security Provider post Cyberoam-Sophos merger
 Cyberoam has recently completed its transition by integrating its product line and channels within the Sophos umbrella. After creating a niche in the network security and endpoint security domain, how will Cyberoam be taking the legacy ahead under the Sophos brand?

Sunil Sharma: Sophos and Cyberoam created a winning combination at the right time, in the right product markets and in all the right geographies. Sophos|Cyberoam share a commitment to a “Channel First” sales strategy, and that commitment will only deepen in the days ahead. Moreover, we share a strong reputation for high quality products and strong, responsive customer support, and we will further invest in this area as a key differentiator. As an organization our priorities are clearly outlined. We intend to be the best in the world at delivering complete IT security to mid-market enterprises and the channel that serves them. Our immediate goals are to accelerate growth, provide innovative and disruptive products and solutions and enhance our “Channel First” sales model. We are working towards creating a strong brand which will be backed up by a great product portfolio and deliver quality customer service to our customers and partners.

What were the roadblocks during the integration process? How did you ensure smooth consolidation of the channel partners of both the entities? 

Sunil Sharma: We have taken the integration process slowly and steadily towards completion. This has given time to employees and partners across the globe to understand the way of operations and adopt best practices from each other. Roadblocks are something we haven’t experienced at all as a result of our pace.

What are the major changes in Cyberoam’s business and channel strategies after the merger? How has the channel reacted to the acquisition so far?

Sunil Sharma: There are no changes in Cyberoam’s business and channel strategy after the merger. The channel has been very supportive to Cyberoam and now Sophos. Moreover, Sophos as well has been a 100 percent channel focused company, worldwide, like Cyberoam. The channel has welcomed the acquisition because both companies complement each other’s product portfolio and channels get to sell a bigger and comprehensive security solution to their customers. Cyberoam continues to execute and we are confident of achieving our goals. The channel is at the heart of our operations and we are going to further enhance our partner program to service them to ensure smooth business continuity.

How will be the consolidation of Cyberoam’s existing product line with Sophos? Will you maintain the separate brand name for the UTM line of products?

Sunil Sharma: Cyberoam UTM is being sold under the Sophos|Cyberoam brand in India & SAARC. We will be executing sales and marketing strategy in line with our goals and priorities.

How will this acquisition benefit both Cyberoam and Sophos to strengthen their roots in the Network security and Network security domain in India?

Sunil Sharma: With the strategic acquisition of Cyberoam, Sophos had begun deepening its roots in the country. We have begun to leverage the strengths of the Sophos and Cyberoam products and will continue to launch powerful network security solutions in India & SAARC.

Network security or the digital infrastructure security is the core in some of the ambitious projects of the Government of India like Safe City project, Smart City Projects, eGovernance etc. What are the business prospects you observe in these kinds of government initiatives?

Sunil Sharma: We definitely see a huge opportunity in smart city and eGovernance projects. The need of the hour is to stay securely connected and ensure smooth business operations. Hence, products and solutions like access points, perimeter security, end-point security, encryption, and email security would be required for worry-free operations.

What key trends did you observe in the network and endpoint security market in India? What is your forecast about the overall growth of the network and endpoint security business in India in next 3 years?  

Sunil Sharma: According to Gartner’s estimates, Security spending (hardware, software and services) in India was worth $1.11 billion in 2015 and would reach $1.23 billion in 2016. But the overall change is larger than what the numbers convey. It is crucial to observe that ICT trends are collectively bringing a lot of change in the way organizations function. As organizations have started following CIO/CISO culture, capabilities like proactive threat intelligence, high-performance & light weight security, built-in or on-box security features and unified solutions will gain greater traction to support leaner and simpler network security deployments across industries. Expanding attack surface due to explosion of mobile devices along with increasing dependence on cloud, virtualization and social collaboration is going to sustain high growth of network and endpoint security market in India in the medium term.

In your new role, what are the key priority areas you will place emphasis on to strengthen the leadership position of Sophos in the network and endpoint security market in India and SAARC region?

Sunil Sharma: The new position empowers me to extend my previous endeavors towards strengthening the company’s presence in India. As a partner driven organization, partner enablement is a top priority. We are enhancing the partner program and are also working towards increasing the active partner base. This will be accompanied by increasing the sales force to work towards execution of our plans. To further extend our reach, we will develop plans for emerging markets. Presently, we are encouraging our partners to explore and focus more on endpoint security as most of our India partners are conventionally more tuned to dealing in network security. Last but not the least, we will support our channel with great marketing campaigns.

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