Page 1 of 2
Four months after Symantec launched a massive upgrade of its internal business process systems, many of the vendor's channel partners are still fuming over phone support and licensing issues.
Last November, the Cupertino, Calif.-based security giant flipped the switch on a new ERP system that united the Symantec and Veritas systems, introduced new buying programs with new SKUs and altered its software licensing program. The changes led to higher labor and administrative costs and were partially responsible for Symantec falling short of its third-quarter financial targets, said John Thompson, chairman and CEO, in the vendor's Jan. 24 earnings call.
"In addition, our enterprise support cost increased as we fielded that many more calls with longer-than-normal hold times," Thompson said in the call.
Several solution providers who spoke with CRN on condition of anonymity said they're still grappling with long hold times, confusion over SKUs and delays in receiving software licensing codes.
"You pick up the phone and call them, and it's like being an end user. You get put through voice prompts and get put on hold for 45 minutes. And finally, you're sent to the wrong division, and they can't help you. It's actually very similar to dealing with Dell," said one Symantec Gold channel partner, who asked not to be named.
Particularly annoying, another Symantec Gold partner said, is that while you're on hold, a recorded message says to look on Symantec's PartnerNet portal for the answers you're seeking.
"They tell you everything you need is on PartnerNet, but that's just not the case. Symantec has set themselves up so that they'd rather not talk to anyone, but because it's a broad product line, you need to talk live with engineers who know this stuff inside and out," said the Gold partner.
Changes to Symantec's software licensing program have also caused frustration for partners looking to upgrade to new products. Before, partners could put in an order and receive a final license certificate within a day or so. But after the licensing changes took effect, "You could go two to three weeks before getting the certificate," said one partner who asked not to be identified.
When licenses don't show up, partners have to call Symantec for support, a time-consuming process that has irritated many solution providers.
"When our licenses don't show up, and we call and try to get someone on the phone, it takes forever, and then they basically try to say they already sent it and that it's our problem," said one solution provider, who requested anonymity.
Randy Cochran, vice president of Americas channel sales at Symantec, said he's aware of the problems and that the November changes have led to response times and hold times running longer than normal.
"When you merge the lanes and have two different buying programs coming into a third, it's a whole new system. And because of that newness, and the number of SKUs, it doesn't surprise me that there has been some confusion," said Cochran.
Several channel partners told CRN that buying Symantec products through distribution has become a Herculean task because of the new licensing SKUs. The problem is particularly evident at Ingram Micro, according to several VARs.
"The multiplication of cryptically described part numbers has rendered it impossible to purchase Symantec licenses from Ingram Micro without assistance from the licensing help desk. This makes the process much more time-consuming," said one Symantec channel partner.