Sophos opens Toronto office

Sophos on Tuesday said the opening of a Toronto office will help it improve its coverage across Canada and potentially steal market share from more entrenched competitors such as Symantec and McAfee.

The company announced the appointment of former IBM Canada security sales specialist James Drozdiak as the lead executive with the Toronto office, which plans to hire about six to 10 people over the next year.

Sophos was founded in the U.K., where it developed anti-virus and malware protection products for enterprise customers. In 2003 it officially entered the Canadian market by acquiring ActiveState, whose PureMessage tool provided protection for e-mail. It still employs about 220 employees at ActiveState’s former Vancouver headquarters, and does product development there. Sophos North America president Mark Hatton said the Toronto office would be more of a sales and marketing location.

“The reach from Vancouver to Toronto was quite a long one. We couldn’t get the presence there from our Boston location,” Hatton said. “We’re contemplating putting additional offices around the country.”

While Symantec and McAfee already have a sizable Canadian customer base, Hatton said Sophos has already been successful in unseating them in several accounts. The company claims its North American business grew 50 per cent last year, which also includes Latin America.

London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group security analyst James Quinn said Sophos’ product has always gotten decent reviews, but he wasn’t sure if its impact in Canada would be significant.

“Sophos is coming to the game with a limited portfolio of solutions. It has a viable anti-malware offering, with anti-spam capabilities, content filtering and network access control,” he said. “Not to say that they’re a one-trick pony, but there’s not a lot of breadth to their product.”

Hatton, however, said Sophos’ success has come from delivering a product based on a “single agent” model with one console that makes its technology easy to manage.

“Symantec is going much wider, getting into other markets such as backup, which is leaving the customers looking for a security solution they can count on,” he said, adding that Symantec’s spate of acquisitions has made its portfolio cumbersome. “If you look at Symantec’s history, they don’t have a great track record of integrating their acquisitions. Their history doesn’t show they can do that very well.”

Quin said Sophos’ ability to attract Canadian users may ultimately come down to price.

“The ones who would most likely invest in something other than the Symantecs and McFees of the world are those primarily pushed to it by financial constraints,” he said.

Sophos also regularly publishes a “dirty dozen” list of the world’s biggest spam-producing countries. Canada dropped off that list for the first time this year.


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