Sophos Wins Big In 2023 Annual Report Card Awards

CRN Monday released the scorecards for the 2023 Annual Report Card Awards. Sophos was the winner in five security categories. Here’s what Sophos’ Scott Barlow recently had to say about the wins.

[Video transcript]

Jennifer Follett, Executive Editor, CRN: This is Jennifer Follett with CRN, and I’m here with Scott Barlow of Sophos. Scott, good to see you. Thanks for joining me.

Scott Barlow, VP, Global MSP, Cloud Alliances, Sophos: Great to see you. Thanks for having me.

Follett: We’ve got some really cool stuff to talk about today, which is the ARC victory of Sophos in not just one, not just two, but five categories in the security space. Congratulations.ADVERTISEMENT

Barlow: Thank you. We’re very honored. You know, it’s great to actually win these awards because the partners are actually voting for them. And it’s always great to have the partners vote for Sophos. It really just underscores our dedication and commitment to the channel.

Follett: So this year, we’re looking at wins in data security, extended detection and response (XDR), cloud security, and then both SMB and enterprise network security. So that’s where we got to the five. Well done. Well done. And that makes Sophos the winningest vendor over the last 10 years of ARC history. Congratulations!

Barlow: Wow, that’s awesome.

Follett: Talk a little bit, though, about what you think is resonating with partners. Why are all these wins coming through?

Barlow: I think when we look at the channel program that we’ve developed, we have a specialized MSP program, we have a cloud security program as well, and then we have the Sophos Partner Program. And a lot of the partners that we work with really enjoy the ability to log into a single portal and then manage all their security solutions, from firewall to end point, we talked about XDR, managed detection and response. Because then you can take that even further with data security and device encryption, email, mobile security. So you have all of that built into the Sophos Central unified dashboard. And it really just resonates with them. They don’t have to manage eight different vendors. They don’t have to manage the partner programs and MDF and SPIFs and all that from eight vendors. You can consolidate down to one.

Follett: XDR is a pretty competitive space right now, a lot going on there. What do you see there in particular for the channel partner opportunity?

Barlow: So XDR, it really starts with the protection, right? So we provide Intercept X Advanced, that is the protection that would be installed on an endpoint. And then on top of that, you layer XDR. XDR is the ability to identify and pull in the telemetry from the Sophos products, and then you can run queries as a MSP or as a partner.

The customer can also run queries to see what’s happening with them within their environment. And then on top of that, we have managed detection and response. And managed detection and response is really the future, right? It’s cybersecurity as a service, because a lot of these MSPs and partners out there don’t have the resources to build out a SOC [security operations center] or, try to find the talent.

Hiring a specialized talent to go and do threat hunting on their own? It’s really, really expensive, and it’s complicated. And there’s not a lot of those people out there that has that have that expertise. So MDR allows partners to really leverage the Sophos X-Ops team and the MDR team, which is about 500 [people] at this stage globally.

And we are watching 24 x 7 x 365, and it follows the sun. Hackers are not going to attack at 11 a.m. on a Monday when everybody is ready and awake, they’re going to attack at 2 AM on a Sunday. And so we’re always watching and we’ll have the ability to work with partners to either notify them that there’s an issue, we can collaborate with them to go and research the issue, but then also to remediate or the partner can authorize us to go and do the remediation. And most partners start with the collaborate and then they move on to the authorized mode, and we’ll just take action because really time is of the essence when there’s a potential threat.
Follett: So your focus at Sophos is really on the MSP space. Can you just give us a little insight into what’s going on there and what’s new and exciting for partners?

Barlow: Absolutely. The MSP program has been growing. It’s the fastest program growth at Sophos. We have about 18,000 MSPs globally with almost 200,000 customers. And I think this is a massive opportunity for MSPs to look at how do they scale their business. You know, a lot of the MSP owners are technical by nature moving into the CEO role. And MDR affords the MSP the ability to scale their business without adding additional headcount, adding additional resources. I think as we move forward in the future as well, we’re going to see a massive push towards cloud, moving workloads into public cloud environments, whether it’s AWS [Amazon Web Services], [Microsoft] Azure, GCP [Google Cloud Platform], but more importantly, how do you secure those environments, and there’s massive opportunities across the board in security for our MSPs.

And I’m really excited because we have some phenomenal technology. These awards really underscore the innovation that we have at Sophos, but also the program that we’ve developed to help our MSPs and partners in general scale their business.

Follett: Give us a little insight for partners that are really closing out 2023 and gearing up for 2024, where should they be placing their bets?

Barlow: Security, obviously, right? I mean, I think security is the probably the most important aspect. What I’m seeing really across the globe is the need to do more end user training. You have artificial intelligence coming in here. And end users were always able to identify a phishing attack based on a misspelling or a grammatical error. And AI has really changed that, because you can create a phishing attack using AI that is 100 percent grammatically correct. The spelling is all accurate.

So MSPs and partners in general should really train their end users on how to identify phishing attacks and simulations. But also MDR. Cybersecurity as a service is going to be the next generation where all partners should place their bets because they don’t have the ability to keep up with the complexity of the cyberthreats and also the complexity of the tools that are out there. You can put that into the hands of the vendor, and you can focus on scaling your business without responding to these threats.

Follett: Well, congratulations again on the big victory and thank you so much for being here to talk about it.

Barlow: Thank you so much. Great seeing you.LEARN MORE: Cloud Security  | Cybersecurity  | Managed Security  | Endpoint Security 

 Learn About Jennifer Follett


Jennifer Follett is the Executive Editor for CRN where she has been covering the IT solution provider channel for 20 years. She currently oversees CRN magazine and, the website for the industry’s leading channel publication. She can be reached at [email protected].


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