Symantec channel overhaul makes all VARs equal

Even small VARs can become Platinum partners with the right training (which is free), support (which has been simplified) and sales generation (which is up to you).

Twenty-one months after launching an effort to gracefully integrate its channel orientation with the direct sales model of Veritas Software, Symantec Corp. is rolling out a new program that rubs out many of the irritations of both of the old programs.

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"Really, it's like they took the best things out of each of the old programs and put them into what they're doing now," according to Adam Gray, chief technology officer for security, network management and integration service provider Novacoast Inc. in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"There's a lot more unified support," he said. "Before if you wanted to get support from Veritas it was one set of numbers, and the enterprise security stuff from Symantec was another set. Now you get the same access to both groups -- 24x7 from Symantec, skipping first-level support from Veritas."

"I'm seeing better support now than I ever had with either Veritas standalone or Symantec standalone," Gray said.

That unification was a major struggle for Symantec, according to Julie Parrish, the former VP of field and channel marketing for Veritas' Americas group who is now VP of global channels at Symantec.

Parrish was appointed to lead that charge in March of 2005, three months before the acquisition was finalized in July of that year. That integration was essentially finished and rolled out in November, along with efforts to increase program and product support for VARs aiming at the small- and medium-sized business (SMB) market.

The latest stage, being announced today and rolled out during this coming week, includes program incentives designed to enable value-added resellers (VARs) at both the large and small ends of the market to reach higher, more rewarding levels of partnership in Symantec's program, Parrish said.

The status of partners and their advancement through the four tiers of Symantec's new program -- Registered, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels -- are judged according to three criteria:

 

  • their investment in training in Symantec product implementation;
  • their ability to recruit new customer leads and drive demand;
  • their total volume of sales.

"We broke the philosophy that you could only get to the top of the program if you were a big-product software and data-center certified partner," Parrish said. "The criteria are weighted evenly in most geographic areas. You can invest heavily in technical and sales training; you can do a dynamite job of driving market demand, and have a relatively low sales volume and still achieve Gold or Platinum."

The three criteria are weighted evenly in most geographic areas, Parrish said, though in heavily populated areas sales volume might weigh as heavily as 50% in the decision, rather than one-third, as it would elsewhere, she said.

Other enhancements include:

Technical support:

  • Standard and priority support numbers available to anyone in partner organization;

  • support is measured incident until a problem is solved, not per call or per hour;

  • available incidents increase along with status in program;

  • additional incidents are available for purchase.

Training and Certification:

  • Training is free and available online;

  • certification is by test and is standardized, not dependent on the curriculum of a specific class;

  • certification is per product, so partners can invest in only the training they need;

  • advancement in the program is partly based on the number of certifications achieved;

  • later this year certifications will be grouped by specialty area and higher-level certifications will be available for each;

  • higher-level certifications count for more in the channel-tier calculation.

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Eliminating the need to take engineers out of the field and send them to classes is a huge benefit, as is the ability to focus on only the training you need, Gray said.

But Symantec is pretty generous about higher-level technical support as well, even sending its regional sales engineers out to a partner site to help with training "for as long as it takes to get that certification under your belt," Gray said.

"Their SEs are used for the channel -- some are used for tech support, but they're just as likely to be training us," Gray said. "It's for higher-level stuff, Control Compliance Suite and SSIM, not antivirus and stuff you're expected to know anyway. But I get the feeling it's for anybody who picks up the phone and asks."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Kevin Fogarty, News Director.

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