Channel technologies, Channel chiefs, Channel partner programs, MSP

Why AVG’s Channel Chief Invaded Canada

Fred Gerritse
Fred Gerritse

As part of a global partner initiative, AVG Technologies Channel Chief Fred Gerritse has spent the past several weeks in Ottawa, Canada. In fact, the total visit will last three months.

What inspired the lengthy stay? Gerritse, senior VP and GM of AVG Business, is connecting the dots between AVG's security business and the company's RMM (remote monitoring and management) software, called Managed Workplace. The core RMM team, with some roots stretching back to AVG's Level Platforms acquisition in 2013, is based in Ottawa.

"Ottawa is our center of excellence for Managed Workplace," Gerritse told ChannelE2E today. "It's very important for our strategy going forward. We're taking a closer look at how we can accelerate the platform and differentiate the platform from the competition."

AVG Business: It Starts With Security

Still, the RMM platform, designed for MSPs, is only one piece of a larger puzzle that Gerritse is piecing together for AVG and partners. Indeed, AVG is building a channel-led strategy for the SMB security market. The partner network will include MSPs and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs), among other business types. More details are expected to surface in the next few weeks...

Gary Kovacs

In the meantime, ChannelE2E was curious: What attracted Gerritse to AVG? The simple answer involves the SMB market. Before joining AVG in October 2015, he was deeply involved in Cisco's commercial efforts. Earlier, he spent a decade at Compaq Computer -- one of the world's best-known SMB brands at the time.

"I love the commercial stuff and the partner landscape," says Gerritse. After interviewing with CEO Gary Kovacs and other team members, Gerritse was sold on the opportunity to drive security solutions into the SMB market through the channel -- including MSPs.

Admittedly, Gerritse arrived at AVG during a critical inflection point for the company. In mid- to late-2015, the company's SMB business was underperforming. AVG CloudCare -- an online security system -- had big potential but wasn't quite living up to the hype. Meanwhile, some MSPs were abandoning ManagedWorkplace for alternative RMM platforms. AVG promised changes and quickly reorganized the business, hiring Gerritse to drive the effort.

AVG SMB: Signs of Progress

Fast forward to the present and there are signs of progress. During an April 2016 earnings call, CEO Gary Kovacs said the SMB business was making progress toward break-even goals for 2016 after posting losses in late 2015. In fact, Managed Workplace sales are now growing by double-digit percentages, Gerritse told ChannelE2E today. Managed Workplace 10, an RMM upgrade launched in April, is fueling that growth.

Ryan Vallee

Instead of sitting back to enjoy the momentum, AVG is trying to shift its channel business into overdrive. A new partner certification program has attracted "thousands" of participants, Gerritse says. And in the second half of this year, AVG will launch a new ecommerce platform, empowering certified partners to pursue various discount levels, he adds.

Meanwhile, AVG also continues to connect the dots between CloudCare and Managed Workplace. Ryan Vallee, product management lead for AVG Business, has emerged as a conduit between MSPs and the AVG development team. Vallee and the Managed Workplace team have huddled with Gerritse in recent weeks, exploring ideas and feedback for further integrations.

I'm not suggesting that AVG is somehow poised to disrupt the overall RMM and MSP software market, where numerous players now have massive installed bases. Still, you can almost sense that Gerritse is getting ready to unveil a larger channel plan. Stay tuned...

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.