Webroot's email archiving partners could face a fight to hang on to their margins, after an email from the vendor apparently told end users they could buy the product at cost price.
The security firm's archiving customers are currently in the process of being migrated to Sonian. The cloud specialist will serve a number of bigger partners directly, while those conducting occasional business will be handled via Master Reseller Partner EPA.
An email recently sent to end-user archiving customers by Webroot worldwide vice president of worldwide demand fulfilment Jeff Santelices was passed on to ChannelWeb this week. In the communique, Santelices explains that clients have until the end of next month to transfer their contract to Sonian and configure their email.
For those not moving to Sonian, Webroot's archiving service will be turned off at the end of March. For customers wishing to move to a provider other than Sonian, data can be migrated at a cost of £6.39 per GB until 31 March.
"If you choose to move to Sonian, contracts will start at 80p per user per month," writes Santelices.
But several sources have contacted ChannelWeb claiming this figure in effect represents resellers' cost price. Tricky conversations with customers may lie ahead for VARs, say sources.
One comment left on ChannelWeb reads: "[Webroot] emailed my end-user archive customers over Christmas with my best buy cost price as part of their migration messaging. [We have] already had one customer asking [that] we match the price Webroot listed, which is below what we were charging."
In his email, Santelices seeks to reassure clients that their future is in safe hands.
"Rest assured, Sonian is committed to providing you the same excellence in programmes and services you have come to expect from Webroot, and to meeting all of your specific account needs," he writes.
Massachusetts-based Sonian set up shop in the UK 10 weeks ago, bringing in Mark Tickle as EMEA vice president. Tickle, who formerly led Webroot's EMEA operations, declined to comment on any communications from his former employer, but told ChannelWeb that Sonian had plans to nurture and grow the archiving channel it is inheriting.
"We have a reseller programme that enables our partners to make money," he said. "There are [Gold, Silver and Bronze] tiers based on the commitment that partners make. We are very much looking to expand our base in the UK and are interested in hearing from VARs or potential OEM partners.
"For us, it is a great opportunity. Sonian has grown significantly in the last five or six years. It is really positive to have a presence in the UK."
ChannelWeb revealed last month that Webroot is end-of-lifing its email security product and is expected to limit its routes to market for its web security offering.
UK staff numbers are also understood to have been vastly scaled back in recent weeks, with a number of functions moved from the UK base in Bracknell to Dublin.
In a statement to ChannelWeb, Webroot said it is "working with all parties to facilitate as smooth a transition as possible" for its archiving solution and is "addressing challenges as they arise".
It pointed out that its new consumer endpoint product – Webroot SecureAnywhere - which was launched in October, already has more than a million users.
"Our decision to move away from archiving doesn't reflect a reduced commitment to our partners; rather, it reflects where we see the internet security industry shifting," Webroot said.
"We believe the future of internet security is in endpoint, web and mobile protection, and we're uniquely positioned to bring our partners along with us in the battle against them. We're holding a Pan-EMEA partner summit toward the end of January, where we'll outline our strategy and preview our roadmap to address the future of security. We continue to stand by our partners and their end users as we work through this transition and position them to be highly successful for years to come. "
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