Symantec uses Windows Vista upgrades to sell app compatibility tool

Symantec's campaign linking the Altiris Application Compatibility Suite and Windows Vista upgrades could help solution providers expand their Altiris business.

Symantec Corp. is trying to get in on what some analysts expect will be a boom in Microsoft Windows Vista upgrades by pitching its Altiris product line as a tool to make Vista migrations easier.

The strategy could help value-added resellers (VARs) and systems integrators (SIs) sell the Altiris Application Compatibility Suite and other products to new customers and expand their Altiris business among existing customers, according to some Symantec partners.

"People want to verify before the implementation that they're going to be OK, and they want to make sure after the migration that it went OK," said Wade Wyant, president of ITS Partners in Grand Rapids, Mich. "Your Altiris sales will grow once the Vista migrations start to pick up."

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But other Symantec partners said they don't expect Windows Vista upgrades to increase their Altiris business.

"Clients that like Altiris will use it as an enabler," said Dave Hall, chief technical officer of CompuCom in Dallas. "I don't think you're going to run out and buy it when you're moving to Vista."

Symantec purchased systems management vendor Altiris in January 2007, about one month after Altiris launched its Easy Vista Migration Web site. The site includes white papers, webcasts, a free e-book, and information on the Altiris Application Compatibility Suite and other products. And a current Symantec advertising campaign, "Smart Migration," features the slogan, "Migrate to Vista with Altiris, now part of Symantec."

"We're hoping that it is a good opportunity," said Jordan Pusey, a Symantec product marketing manager. "There's quite a market share for Vista migrations. It's going to be considerably large."

The Altiris Application Compatibility Suite helps Symantec partners and their customers test their applications, patch hardware and software and otherwise reduce the time, effort and "fears" of performing a Windows Vista upgrade, Pusey said.

"Every operating system upgrade is plagued with the same problems," he said. "Microsoft waited so long that people are entrenched with Windows XP, so the problem is bigger than it was before."

Microsoft also offers its own Application Compatibility Toolkit to aid Windows Vista upgrades. Hall said CompuCom does not push one tool over the other, although Altiris has "strong asset management tracking that can certainly help you with a migration."

"We're going to use what's cost-effective for the customer," he said.

At Eden Technologies, a Symantec partner in New York, senior systems architect Bill Bernius said selling Altiris products for Windows Vista upgrades can open up the door for future Altiris business with those customers. After they complete their migrations, they can use the software for application delivery, patch management, hardware monitoring and more, Bernius said.

"We see a lot of up-sell opportunities," he added. "A lot of customers don't have asset management."

Wyant said he sees those same opportunities at ITS Partners. Now he just has to wait for customers to start their Windows Vista upgrades en masse. Forrester Research predicts that one in three businesses will start migrating by mid-2008, while Gartner projects that Vista won't outsell XP until 2009.

"We've been hearing it's finally going to hit forever," Wyant said. "It's been very, very hard for us to forecast."

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