Security firm SMX lands Japan deal

'White labelling' strategy sees SMX extend its global footprint

New Zealand anti-spam and anti-virus company SMX has landed a licencing and sales agreement with Japanese hosting provider Tsukaeru.net, its first foray into the large Japanese market.

SMX offers a cloud-based anti-spam and virus service that can be "white-labelled", allowing others to deliver and brand the service as their own. SMX is now live at Tsukaeru.net, based out of Nagano.

"This is a strategic breakthrough for our export plans," SMX's managing director Jesse Ball says. "Tsukaeru.net is one of the fastest growing hosting providers in Japan, selling virtual servers and a range of virtual applications -- of which ours is now one."

Tsukaeru.net's president, Jason Frisch, is an Australian schooled in Japan who specialises in localising technology, says Ball. That means more than just translation, he adds, and in Japan there are two different types of translation.

The product's name in Japan translates as "cloud mail", he says.

Tsukaeru.net can also sell to other service providers off its platform, he says.

Ball says he was surprised to find the Japanese market was still so open. Anti-spam services have been common in New Zealand since the late 1990s, but in Japan such services are commonly opt-in and they tag spam rather than removing it as SMX does, he says.

For that reason, clean rates of 85 percent have been acceptable. SMX's claims 99.9 percent accuracy for inbound email and false positives of four emails per million. The company also offers outbound filtering and customisable filtering rules for customers.

Ball says the Tsukaeru.net deal will give SMX a great reference for its white labeling capability, under which SMX provides software, training and regular software updates in return for a percentage of the annual per-seat licence fee charged to the customer.

"In the case of Tsukaeru.net, rebranding, installation and training was all completed inside a three-month window, with low upfront costs for Tsukaeru.net. This included translation of all print and online sales, marketing and support documentation from English into Japanese," Ball says.

Tsukaeru.net joins existing SMX customers, including India's largest IT services company, CMC -- a subsidiary of the giant Tata Group. CMC's SMX-based service is similarly white labeled and is running at two datacentres, one in Chennai and one in Hyderabad.

Ball says SMX is benefiting from an explosion in demand for cloud-based services -- where companies pay a fee for computer hardware and software applications, hosted at a remote datacentre, rather than owning and operating the systems at their own premises. SMX's multi-tenanted system allows it to be scaled rapidly and deployed quickly.

"An anti-spam and anti-virus service is one of the first and most logical applications for organisations to take to the cloud," Ball says. "Even the most conservative organisations can see the benefit of cleaning email before it enters their own network."

That increase in business has led the company to hire, most recently picking up Mike Murphy, formerly CEO of Ice Angels, local MD of Baan and before that strategic account director at Eagle Technology.

The Japan sale follows the announcement last month that SMX had launched in Australia with the opening of a datacentre in Melbourne and the signing of four resellers.

SMX, launched in February 2006, is a privately-owned company, based in Auckland.

Ball says the service cleans spam and viruses before they reach customer networks with savings in network bandwidth frequently being more than the monthly cost of the service.

SMX's also offers the ability to deploy infrastructure locally, ensuring email is not routed through countries such as the United States, but is scrubbed in the customers own country, under local law and jurisdiction.

Among its local customers, SMX claims the Automobile Association, the Accident Compensation Corporation, Harcourts, Christchurch Polytechnic, the Foundation for Research Science and Technology and a number of local government and council organisations.

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