Providers Still See Value In Selling Simple Antivirus


German antivirus vendor Avira is making a push into North America, launching a channel program that it says will address the growing need to provide lightweight antivirus to small business owners.

Avira, which counts approximately 150 million users globally, is known as one of several freemium antivirus vendors. The firm sells three versions of a business platform that range from $100 for standard business workstation antimalware protection to about $200 for the addition of server, email security and antispam protection.

Avira's channel program features a fixed cost of less than $1 per month for North American resellers. The firm offers simple enrollment, no maintenance costs and two uncomplicated partner levels, said Lance Jacobs, general manager for North America at Avira.

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"The enrollment process is less than two minutes, and we extend credit to these partners once we verify you are a legitimate business," Jacobs told CRN. "Avira is about working on usability and its core AV products; we want to serve the small business segment."

Avira sells its Professional Security suite to small businesses and mainly competes with AVG, which also started a programs in the U.S. AVG launched its antivirus swap program targeting small businesses in January and touts its cloud management capabilities. Jacobs, who previously was vice president of sales at Web fraud detection vendor ThreatMetrix, also served as director of the strategic sales group for North America at Helsinki Finland-based antivirus vendor F-Secure. He said small businesses value simplicity first.

Early Avira Partners told CRN they immediately wanted to get in with an antivirus suite that offers healthy margins with plenty of room for market share growth. Small businesses with less than 250 seats need a starting point for security, said Monte Robertson, president of Denver-based Software Security Solutions, an early Avira partner. The reseller sells both ESET and Avira to small businesses. The company also sells Fortinet appliances for an additional layer of protection.

"Typically small businesses have the mindset that AV will protect them from everything, which we know isn't true," Robertson said. "You have to go with a layered approach. But, if your position is to go with AV, then you want to go with a vendor that does well in independent testing."

Some small businesses don't want components and protection that they might need, said Chris Allman, president of Dallas-based Tech10 Networks, which specializes in selling application delivery appliances. The goal is to eliminate complexity but maintain strong security, Allman said. A longtime Sophos reseller, Allman said his firm is still a believer in the U.K.-based firms' endpoint security platform, but it was important to offer lightweight antivirus to certain businesses that required it.

"Small businesses don't want stuff crammed down their throats," Allman said. "This is an opportunity to increase market share with an additional product that performs as advertised right out of the box."

Avira offers two partner levels: a Smart Partner level, which provides 24/7 technical support, evaluation licenses, access to its partner portal and free online training; and an Uber Partner level, which adds a designated account manager, a front-line technical support number and a demo product. Uber partners will be provided leads and must make an annual commitment of about $75,000 generated in revenue. Tech support is based in Mexico, Jacobs said.

PUBLISHED OCT. 16, 2013