AVG looks to UK channel to ramp up SaaS

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Following the 2013 acquisition of remote management and monitoring (RMM) company LPI Platform to accelerate its cloud-based services model, AVG is in the process of helping its UK channel to take advantage of the managed services.

During the first quarter of 2014, AVG focused on merging the separate sales programmes for AVG CloudCare and AVG Managed Workplace into a single, unified platform and on giving partners the tools to become managed service providers (MSPs).

“Our SMB business is going through a transformation, as channel partners are moving from the classic reseller model to a SaaS-based alternative that provides them with a recurring revenue model,” said Mike Foreman, GM of the SMB business at AVG during a discussion where he outlined the company’s strategy for expanding its UK managed services partner base in 2014.

“When we did the acquisition, we made the commitment that we would bring this product into the UK and support it locally. We have delivered on that now and will continue to do so.”

Foreman outlined the company’s relationship with its partners as two-way investment. “We’re putting programmes in place; this is not about sending them a PDF on ‘how to be an managed service provider’, it’s about one-to-one coaching. Partners are investing in AVG so we are committing to that as they are building their business on our platform.”

He says the company is using a two-pronged approach: on one side, encouraging existing partners to grow the amount of services they are selling to their customers and on the other, encouraging new partners to join the programme. “We are committing to our platform, to build it out with the services that the partners need, it’s a two way investment to each other and it’s proving very exciting from the partner’s point of view.”

Foreman notes that the managed services wave is sweeping the UK and that as a response, AVG has evolved its UK partner support business towards an ‘enabling’ team, both commercial and technical. “We have brought in industry professionals that came from other vendors, we’ve recruited engineers that came through MSPs who are now part of our enablement team and help other MSPs.”

He says the initiative has had tremendous success this quarter, since it launched. “We’re kind of going back to the old school way of doing things, to real one-on-one relationships, be that over the phone with tutorials and weekly counseling or educating our partners through to on-site visits. Our engineers will go out to the partners and help them understand the benefits this platform will bring them.”

Part of this is merging the two separate sales programmes for AVG CloudCare and AVG Managed Workplace into a single unified program. This means merging the two sales teams, pricing structures and generally making life easier for partners.

“Partners want a single interface to manage everything from and the best commercial terms,” said Foreman. “Being able to provide the one invoice and usage across the different platforms to give a combined value or discount for a pricing period based on usage over all. And ultimately, one single point of contact.”

He notes that SaaS is based on a flexible model where end customers and partners pay on a usage base. “We just charge our partners on the amount of data they’ve used across everything and our software is intelligent enough to scan everything, we look for common files, word documents, Powerpoints. It takes care of the worry of having to commit to a certain amount of licenses for the partner and customer.”

AVG has also announced it will host an international cloud summit in Phoenix this October, to which some UK partners will be invited. “This is primarily about education. We’ll run two parallel tracks, one technical and one more business orientated. Part of our philosophy with managed services is the ecosystem and we want our partners to be able to manage other vendor products through our platform as well so they have one interface.”