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Symantec welcomes partners — on war ship

Symantec Partner Engage kicked off today in San Diego with a welcome reception aboard the U.S.S. Midway, a former U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. Symantec partners and executives got the chance to mingle over drinks, dinner and dessert, but they kept the shop talk to a minimum — likely sensing that they’ll get more than their fair share tomorrow, when breakfast starts at 7 a.m. and seminars continue through 5:15 p.m.

Jim Russell, Symantec’s public sector vice president, did spend some time with me discussing new opportunities in the public sector. As the government puts more and more security regulations into place, like the Federal Information Processing Standards publication 201 (FIPS 201), it creates more business for security vendors like Symantec and their channel partners, Russell said. And since agencies are required to meet those standards, partners can spend less time making sales pitches and more time devising ways to integrate compliance products with other security solutions, he said. Russell will lead a seminar on public sector security tomorrow afternoon.

CEO John Thompson also made his rounds during cocktail hour and even stopped to chat with my group of reporters and partners. He gave no hints about the subject of his keynote address tomorrow morning, instead telling us a funny story about his fear of nuclear submarines (don’t ask) and then his plans for his wife’s upcoming birthday. Some partners approached Thompson and introduced themselves as he made his way across the deck, but more were lined up to try the full-motion flight simulators that are a top attraction at the Midway. Apparently there’s an inner fighter pilot in a lot of value-added resellers.

Tomorrow I’m heading to seminars on Symantec Endpoint Protection, Software-as-a-Service and Symantec’s future technologies. Symantec will also be giving out its annual partner awards, and there will be keynote speeches from Thompson, channel vice president Julie Parrish and other executives. If I’m not too worn out from all that, I’ll try to report the winner of the limbo contest during tomorrow night’s Symantec Baja Beach Bash as well.

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