Proofpoint’s Ciaran Rafferty: “We’re here to stay”

News Christine Horton
Dec 06, 2013

Proofpoint exec Ciaran Rafferty explains channel overhaul, seeks to reassure partners of firm’s commitment

US email security vendor Proofpoint (NASDAQ:PFPT) has issued a message to its UK channel partners: ‘We’re here to stay’.

The assurance follows doubts over the firm’s commitment to the region, after it pulled out in 2008, and has struggled to re-gain the lost ground.

According to Proofpoint’s VP of NEMEA, Ciaran Rafferty, the firm is working hard to regain the channel’s trust after “getting into the UK and getting out again”, which he describes as “a death-knell for any US company”.

Now however, Proofpoint – which operates a 100 percent channel model – has revealed it wants to grow its non-US business from 10 percent to 40 percent of its revenue over the next three or four years, primarily through winning larger deals in the enterprise.

Realising the extent of ground it needed to make up, the vendor recruited Rafferty 12 months ago, charging him with re-building its channel organisation in the region. Subsequently, the former Sophos VP has made a number of sweeping changes, not least opting to focus on just 10 key partners in the UK (with the exception of the firm’s Essentials MSP base) and introducing a single-tier channel model.

“With cloud, there’s very little value a distributor can add,” Rafferty tells Channel Pro. “[With a single-tier model] you’re closer to the partner, so it’s easier to do business with them and enable them faster.”

The exec says the firm is being “very specific” about it’s top 10, and isn’t taking on any new partners, “until we know they’re serious,” he adds. Any interested partner must serve 12 months under one of the current partners – such as Softcat, Trustmarque, Accumuli, Bluecube and Company 85 – through whom they’ll transact their business.

The firm has also introduced a formal channel programme, including a deal registration scheme and margin incentives for partners.

Meanwhile Proofpoint has further bolstered its management team the region by hiring former Clearswift CEO Richard Turner to lead the business in EMEA.

Perfect storm

According to Rafferty, the firm is now making inroads into the enterprise with some key wins in the legal and financials sectors, adding that 40 of the Fortune 100 companies now use Proofpoint.

He also claims the vendor has taken 2.8m Postini users worldwide over the last 18 months, after Google turned off support for the service.

“It’s a perfect storm,” he says. “With everything that’s going on around Symantec 4.0, and IronPort not really being invested in since it was bought by Cisco, it’s a real opportunity to tell a new story to customers.”

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