Kaspersky readies managed services product

Gary Abad

Kaspersky North America channel chief Gary Abad

It’s been a while in coming, but Kaspersky Lab’s MSP-friendly Service Provider edition is almost ready to go.

The product, which lets service providers managed anti-malware protection remotely for all their customers, was first discussed at last year’s C3 Partner Conference. A year later, and it’s almost ready to go – the product is just wrapping up its beta run at present, and this year’s C3 featured a video with Calgary-based partner E.S. Williams discussing its experience in the beta phase.

Details of the launch were sparse, but Gary Abad, vice president of North American channels at Kaspersky, suggested it would launch in March or April, once final details on pricing, licensing/subscription models and distribution are in place.

Abad said the product has been in development so long because the company “doesn’t want any false starts” in the managed services arena. “The quality has absolutely got to be there,” he said.

Keith Maskell, head of the corporate business for Kaspersky, said that the company currently has 45 test deployments of the Service Provider edition worldwide leading up to the launch. “We were very modest about this product last year, but we’re getting very excited about it,” he said.

The product may be arriving a little late – the company last year had looked at a late 2010 launch for the Service Provider edition – but managed services remain a hot topic and security vendors are still building out their ability to support partners who either have made the jump to managed services or are looking to add the recurring revenues model to their mix. Security rival Panda Security, for example, has made managed services a big part of its cloud-centric push to solution providers. McAfee is also making managed security services a top priority with its partners.

Kevin Krempulec, vice president of sales for Kaspersky Canada, highlighted managed services as one of the top opportunities for the company’s partners. “I can certainly tell you there’s gold in those hills,” he told partners.

The company says Service Provider edition will let its partner manage anti-malware protection for a large number of customers from a single management console, allowing partners to remotely manage their customers’ security infrastructures. It is designed to be offered as a subscription service, and the company suggested partners would have the option to host it themselves or to run the management system from the cloud.

For partners who aren’t today offering managed security services but are interested in the Service Provider Edition when it launches will be offered full training on it, and the company says it will also look to build mentoring conversations amongst those who have experience with the managed services package and those who aren’t there yet.

“Our challenge here is to raise the technical IQ because they’re going to be the tech support, they’re going to be the IT security experts for these companies,” Abad said.

But those partners are in the minority, according to Abad, who suggested that the majority of the company’s partners today have some experience with managed services. But that’s not saying the company is going to roll it out immediately to that majority. In fact, the company is looking to go slow adding partners to the Service Provider Edition, likely beginning with its partner advisory council so it get as much feedback as possible in early days. Having that controlled approach to entering the market will also be a competitive differentiator for Kaspersky, Abad suggested, giving it a high-touch approach against competitors who’ve been in the managed security space for some time now.

“The folks who start working with us will see a faster return quicker than they would with other solutions, and they’ll get more time and attention from us,” he said.