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Symantec hopes new initiatives will bode well for partners

Symantec hopes its recent acquisitions and SaaS offerings will mean more opportunities for resellers.

Symantec executives are hoping that a suite of products created from recent acquisitions and new software as a service (SaaS) offerings will help increase opportunities for its partners this year.

"People look at Symantec and say, 'You've built and bought a lot of different technologies,' said Randy Cochran, the company's vice president of channel sales for the Americas. "Now we've put it together."

Symantec's forthcoming endpoint security suite, code named Hamlet, is "a combination of a number of our products that we've either built or we've had as legacy products," Cochran said. And the company last month released Symantec Online Backup Service, the first step in its plans to make all of its software available as software as a service (SaaS).

Jonathan Dambrot, managing director for Prevalent Networks, a Symantec channel partner in Warren, N.J., said he is looking forward to both initiatives because "the channel is going to be the main sales outlet."

When Symantec announced its SaaS plans, some analysts said

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Symantec SaaS push will force channel to change
the move would force channel partners to become more like managed services providers -- a potentially difficult challenge for those who have followed the traditional reseller model. They also said that those partners who could make the adjustment would see new opportunities to integrate different SaaS offerings and customize them for specific verticals.

Some observers and channel partners recently have said Symantec is making a concerted effort to become more channel-friendly in 2007.

Novacoast, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Symantec partner, has always had a good relationship with the vendor, project and security manager Al Maslowski-Yerges said, but that's mostly because he and his colleagues have taken a proactive approach. The company joined Symantec's Partner Technical Advisory Council and offers to beta test the vendor's products.

This year, however, Maslowski-Yerges said he has received phone calls from Symantec executives and invitations to face-to-face meetings with its channel representatives.

"There's definitely been an effort to identify top partners and develop relationships with those partners," he said. "They're seeking me out, so that's been a nice change."

Cochran said Symantec has always been channel-friendly, but he did acknowledge that recent moves may have caused some problems with some partners. Since its highly publicized $13.5 billion acquisition of storage vendor Veritas Software in late 2004, Symantec has purchased seven other companies.

"Acquisitions are tough," Cochran said. "You will have to sometimes make decisions that aren't terribly popular."

Dambrot agreed. Value-added resellers (VARs) that were not willing or able to expand into new verticals or business lines may have felt left behind after some acquisitions, and the weak or nonexistent channel programs of some of the acquired companies may have caused some "frustration," he said.

But Dambrot said Prevalent Networks has mostly benefited from the acquisitions Symantec has made, even though each new purchase means more investments his company has had to make.

"Our strategies are in line with a lot of the companies they're buying," he said. "It's not just about [antivirus]."

Novacoast has been a Symantec partner since the vendor bought a smaller company that Novacoast worked with about five years ago.

"Any acquisition takes time, and there are some bumps along the way," Maslowski-Yerges said. "We recognize that. But for the most part, they stay true to their intentions and to the companies they're acquiring."

Cochran said Symantec has learned from past experiences, pointing out the handling of its recent acquisition of management software vendor Altiris. Altiris will pretty much run independently at first, so as to not disrupt its business or channel programs, and over time Symantec will find logical areas to integrate the two, Cochran said.

Let us know what you think about this story; email: Colin Steele, Features Writer.

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