Today, security vendor Avast is announcing its new SMB-focused commercial portfolio, which features a new anti-virus solution together with a new channel program, a new certification program and a new portal. The moves are all about integrating the acquired AVG technology into a new consolidated offering, as well as bringing together the company’s Avast and AVG channel programs and offerings under one consolidated Avast roof. With the moves, the AVG name, which had been most prominent on the commercial side in the hybrid name of AVG Business by Avast, disappears. It is now simply Avast Business.
“This has been a pretty exciting week for us, as we tell the world all about Avast Business,” said Sean Sykes, Managing Director for North America and Latin America for Avast Business. “We’ve had several main focuses, with the first being unifying the products and the customer base. We have a fantastic consumer brand, but we are trying to build our brand for the SMB and the midmarket, and Avast Business is the brand we will build that opportunity around.”
Building that commercial business, which is dwarfed by the Avast-AVG consumer strength based on a freemium model, has long been a vexing issue for Avast. Before they acquired AVG they made several attempts at it, including a freemium AV model for the channel, which not surprisingly, found little favour there. The acquisition of AVG brought them a more developed commercial organization, which included CloudCare cloud-based endpoint protection and Managed Workplace, the latter being the RMM platform AVG had acquired with Level Platforms in 2013. With the acquisition, the former AVG business unit became Avast’s commercial unit. Its growth, first under AVG and then under Avast, has not met expectations. Sykes believes, however, that the new integrations raise both the product portfolio and its support channel mechanisms to a new level, and will bring about that growth.
“Our new Avast Business Antivirus brings together the best of the Avast and AVG offerings, and is incredibly powerful for us,” he said. “We took the next-gen capabilities from both of those products and integrated them into one platform.”
These capabilities leverage the data from the 400 million customers Avast has, mainly on the consumer side.
“In addition to the sheer size of the data, we took the artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities from Avast and put it in the platform,” Sykes indicated. “From the AVG side, we brought in a number of behavior shields that allow for static and behavioral monitoring at the device level.”
Avast Business Antivirus is the base product. The four shields – file, email, web and behavior – are complemented by Avast’s proprietary CyberCapture cloud-based smart file scanner, WiFi Inspector features and sandboxing.
“In addition to the base AV product, we have two additional tiers,” Sykes said. Avast Business Antivirus Pro adds data protection services to secure Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint servers, Software Updater for third-party software updates and Data Shredder to permanently delete files. Avast Business Antivirus Pro Plus includes all the Avast Business Antivirus Pro features and additional identity protection around WiFi connections and password management.
“What also makes us unique is our ability to support not just the endpoint but the network with Managed Workplace 11,” Sykes noted. “The new Avast Business Antivirus Pro Plus is integrated directly into Managed Workplace, and is available as an option in CloudCare.
“With these three tiers of Avast Business Antivirus, we span the device, the data and the identity component, providing our channel partners with solutions that are easy to use, effective and affordable,” Sykes continued. “We believe this new release will let us get stability as a business-focused antivirus product, and puts us in a very strong position to move into the midmarket.”
In addition to the new unified Business Antivirus product, Avast is introducing a new unified Avast channel program
“We heard loud and clear from our partners about what was important to them in the partner program,” Sykes said. “They wanted a formal program of knowledge transfer around products and security, so we put together a new education program which rewards partners for their knowledge with a certification.”
Both Avast and AVG had certifications before, but Sykes stressed that the new Avast Business Partner Certification Program which replaces them is quite different.
“With this one, there is much greater emphasis on certification and there are much more formal requirements than before, with respect to tier status,” he said. “That’s important because there is such an opportunity with the skills shortage of personnel qualified to deliver security, which is so dominating customer discussions today. Our training and certification programs will help partners develop the skill sets to meet this gap in the market. This program also ensures that the framework is consistent globally, and places greater emphasis on distributors than the old programs.”
Avast partners are automatically grandfathered for one year, and have that time to get certified for the new program.There are separate certification tracks for MSPs and for partners purchasing through distribution.
A new Avast Business Global Channel Partner Program replaces the existing Avast and AVG partner program. Sykes said that while the two company programs were structured similarly before, and the new one won’t offer any drastic structural changes.
“Partners had two requests here,” Sykes said. “They wanted an integrated billing and payment system, and they wanted a focus on development of sales and marketing assistance that were customer facing, and with a strong security focus. We have been spending time and money on content development around this. We are at a point now where we have a new portal and rich resources on the site focusing on SMB business units. The partner portal has an integrated billing and payment platform, as well as access of the training and to sales and marketing assets.”
Avast is also debuting a new Avast for Business web site as well.