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BitDefender chooses Ingram for Canadian distribution

AV software maker deals through Tech Data in U.S., but makes a change here

BitDefender, a maker of antivirus and data security software, has serviced its 100 Canadian channel partners directly for several years.

But when it came time for the company to choose a Canadian distributor it turned away from U.S. distributor Tech Data and picked Ingram Micro Canada instead.

“As we interviewed and did research in the territory the feedback we got was that in Canada resellers overwhelmingly preferred to deal with Ingram Micro – at least those resellers that we survey,” said Keith Alston, BitDefender’s North American director of channel sales.

He also said that because Tech Data Canada operates separately from its U.S. parent there were no efficiencies or advantages to be gain by signing with the Canadian division.

BitDefender, a Romanian company whose North American headquarters is in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., makes antivirus, firewall, antispam applications for PCs, and mail and file server protection for Linux and Windows servers.

Better known in the U.S., where its desktop products are widely available, BitDefender products are only available on a few store shelves here. In March, Staples began carrying the line.

However, the company has begun to expand its roots, recently creating a new channel partner program to differentiate between resellers that occasionally sell its software from those who are more aggressively going after the business market.

Under the new program there are three Gold, 17 Silver and 80 Bronze partners here.

Signing Ingram Micro Canada “is part of our strategy to enhance our coverage in Canada,” Altson said.

But he’s not looking for a radical expansion in the number of VARs. The company wants to work closely with channel partners to develop their business plans, he said. Given its current resources, therefore, he hopes to add only 30 more Gold or Silver partners in the near term.

That may not be easy. While some VARs may welcome a new brand, industry analyst James Quin of Info-Tech Research noted that the competition not only includes Symantec and McAfee, but also Microsoft. BitDefender may be well known in Europe, but it only has a small market share here.

“This is becoming an increasingly choked market because it’s completely commoditized,” he said.

While businesses are always looking for improved products, a new entrant has to be able to prove it’s better, he said. “Is it markedly cheaper? That’s going to get some interest,” said Quin. “Is it significantly better. That’s going to get some interest.”

But he also noted that organizations are reducing the number of vendors they’re buying from. Relative to other software security firms, BitDefender has a limited line-up, he added.

He also said that Microsoft has a potent argument that its new ForeFront Security offering integrates with Windows system management software.

Michael Gazdic, Ingram Micro Canada’s vice-president of vendor management, isn’t worried. “I think there’s space” for another brand, he said. “The business of security is growing.”

Alston shrugs off such concerns. First, his company isn’t looking to knock off Symantec and the others, he said, only to expand its sales.

Among the advantages BitDefender offers, he added, is flexible pricing. For example, not only are its sales to organizations “aggressively” priced, channel partners can also give away desktop AV software to customer’s employees for their homes. Not only is this a sales inducement, he said, it also has the practical effect of helping to secure an organization’s network from employees who connect from home.

As for potential new channel partners, Alston said he’s looking for “companies that have reach in their geographic territory” and “have a good record in the SMB space.”

But Gold and Silver partners also have to work with the company to create custom business plans.

Gold partners are expected to sell a least US$150,000 in software a year, while Silver partners are expected to sell US$10,000 a year. Gold partners make approximately 40 per cent margin on products, while Silver partners make 35 per cent. Both are eligible for market development funds.

While BitDefender’s deal with Ingram Micro Canada isn’t exclusive, Alston said there are no immediate plans to add another distributor.

Comment: cdnedit@itbusiness.ca