Proofpoint emphasizes usability, visibility enhancements in SMB-focused Essentials solution

Proofpoint’s historical focus has been higher upmarket, but Essentials, which came originally from a 2013 acquisition, and has been substantially rebuilt from the ground up with an SMB focus, is a key part of their strategy as well.

The new Essentials Threat Interface

Cybersecurity vendor Proofpoint has announced a refresh of their SMB-focused Proofpoint Essentials offerings. The key upgrades here relate to improved administrator effectiveness and experience. A new Threat Interface provides enhanced visibility into threats, while an upgraded managed dashboard improves the admin’s user experience.

“Essentials is a solution that we have had for almost five years,” said Bhagwat Swaroop, executive vice president and general manager of Email Security for Proofpoint. “In 2013, we acquired a Northern Ireland-based SaaS email solution provider, Maildistiller, which became the product line. Since then, we have basically rebuilt it, so that the product today is not what we acquired, but what we built after we acquired it.”

Swaroop emphasized that while Essentials leverages some of Proofpoint Protection’s enterprise technology, it has retained its SMB simplicity.

“The enterprise-grade technology enhances Essentials’ effectiveness, but Essentials is not the same enterprise product, simplified and priced for SMBs,” he said. “We built a brand new product line that is optimized for SMB needs.”

Proofpoint positions Essentials broadly as an SME product, but its’ true sweet spot is the core SMB market.

“Within our portfolio, we sell Protection to the midmarket and the large enterprise,” Swaroop said.  “Essentials typically sells to the under-500 user market, not because it’s not applicable higher up, but because of its simplicity of use.” The 50-500 person organization is the real sweet spot.

Proofpoint does use its enterprise branding as a differentiator in the SMB space, however.

“There are a lot of players in the market,” Swaroop indicated. “However, our basic premise is that smaller businesses can care even more about security than an enterprise. That’s because for an enterprise, a breach is annoying and embarrassing, but for an SMB, a breach can put them out of business. We are the most effective cybersecurity product, and with Essentials, we bring the key parts of our technology to smaller customers in a form factor that is easy for them to use. That’s why we are growing this business at a very healthy rate, and see a lot of room for further growth in this market. This is a market that we deeply care about. Essentials is a big part of our overall strategy. There is no reason that we can’t have as large a share here as we do in the enterprise.”

Proofpoint has evolved in recent years into a 100 per cent channel-focused company, but this part of the business has been historically channel for them as well.

“Essentials has been entirely channel focused for us,” Swaroop said. “We have a small inside sales team, and we would rarely ever go to customers in this market. We sell here through resellers and distributors.”

The new enhancements to Essentials fall into two buckets

Advanced Threat Insight is a new threat interface that gives more visibility into specific threat types targeting an organization.

“We have re-architected the dashboard to highlight visibility around targeted users and the attacks that they receive,” Swaroop said. “We highlight the most pertinent attack, and now provide much more compelling visibility, so users can make proper decisions about security posture.”

The other enhancement is an improved management dashboard.

“We are number one in effectiveness, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be number one in experience as well,” Swaroop stated. “So we redesigned the interface to make things easier to use and optimized the administrative portal. It has been redesigned from the ground up to provide a 360-degree view of the entire organization.”

Swaroop restated Proofpoint’s commitment to ensuring that this remains a differentiated enterprise-grade solution for the SMB space.

“With features like policy-based encryption, data loss prevention and social media account protection, we provide far more than an email gateway here,” he said. “We don’t talk about Essentials a lot when we talk about the company, because the public focus is on our larger accounts. But we are committed to this market.”

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