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New Symantec partner programs aim at managed services, SMBs

Symantec is launching new partner programs to support partners who work in the managed services and small and medium-sized business (SMB) markets.

The Symantec Partner Engage conference ended yesterday with the announcement of three new Symantec partner programs designed to improve managed services, technical support and the small and medium-sized business (SMB) sector.

The Symantec Authorized Consulting Partner (ACP) Program and the Symantec Authorized Technical Assistance Symantec partner program were launched by Symantec's Global Services division, which plans to add more channel support programs during the next 12 to 18 months. The SMB Specialization for Partners is a new addition to Symantec's overall Symantec partner program, providing specific training and support for partners in the SMB market.

Under the ACP Program, Symantec will share its intellectual property regarding the design and deployment of certain products, so that participating partners can integrate those products better for their customers and offer improved consulting services, according to Jeff Hausman, Symantec's senior director of product development.

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Participants also receive priority access to customer support and a dedicated account manager for every service they sell; they also have the option to brand their products with the Symantec name as well as their own.

"Our goal here is to enable customers to buy and partners to sell whatever they think will be the best solution," Hausman said.

Enrollment in the ACP Program requires a commitment to post sales revenue in the six-figure range, he said.

The ACP announcement was the biggest news to come out of Partner Engage because it marked a new level of cooperation between Symantec and its partners, according to Jonathan Dambrot, managing director for Prevalent Networks in Bridgewater, N.J.

"They allow us to become more of an extension of the consulting side," he said.

Hausman described the Technical Assistance partner program as Symantec's way of supporting partners' technical support of customers. The program will provide technical support training for partners who work with Backup Exec, Symantec AntiVirus and other leading products. Participants will also receive priority access to Symantec technical support staff to resolve issues with customers faster.

The SMB Specialization for Partners is available to Symantec's registered and silver partners, who can qualify by passing specific training courses. The company developed the initiative to help partners target SMBs, who Symantec estimates spend $14.6 billion worldwide on IT.

Most of the features, like a dedicated midmarket account manager and access to a toll-free partner hotline, were already in place, but there was never a formal SMB Symantec partner program, said Randy Cochran, Symantec's vice president of channel sales in the Americas. Now that one exists, it could eventually help partners advance in Symantec's partner programs, Cochran said.

"You can come in at an entry level, if you will, and move up," he said.

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