Symantec Executives Acknowledge Sluggishness, Promise Product Integration


Symantec executives acknowledged the company's sluggish pace in trimming costs and realigning its product portfolio as it kicked off its 2014 Vision user conference on Tuesday, showcasing its plan to partner and develop a more tightly integrated portfolio for data management and security.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is moving much more quickly, said Michael Brown, interim president and CEO, and chairman of the board of directors. Speaking to hundreds of customers, Brown attempted to paint an optimistic picture about the company's plans following a spate of executive departures, including President and CEO Steve Bennett, the chief architect of its Symantec 4.0 turnaround strategy, who was fired in March by the company’s board of directors because his pace in executing against the strategy was far too slow, Brown said.

Brown said the company is continuing to reduce costs, is withdrawing from areas where it can't compete, partnering more than ever before and investing heavily in rolling out more integrated products. Throughout the executive keynotes kicking off the event, Vision attendees were treated to several magic performances by illusionist Jason Latimer.

[Related: Symantec Post-Bennett: VARs Concerned About The Storage Business]

"Symantec as a company has tremendous strengths, but we must and we will do even more to solve the increasingly complex challenges that you all face," Brown said. "We have simplified our organizational structure, added some new leaders to our executive team, and redesigned our go-to-market strategy in order to make it easier for you to do business with us."

Symantec partners and customers interviewed by CRN expressed optimism about the changes, but said the central message at the event of reducing system complexity by standardizing on the company’s security and data management portfolio hinges on how successful the vendor can architect and bring to market integrated product sets. The company doesn't appear to be changing its strategy or messaging, said Suzanne Gallagher, senior vice president of marketing at Broomfield, Colo.-based Datalink, a Symantec storage provider.

"It doesn't appear that they're making any strategy changes; they're focusing on growth acceleration and executing on their plan at a faster pace," Gallagher said. 

At the event, held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Symantec shed light on its unified communication and data protection concept, indicating that it is merging its cloud-based components with its endpoint protection software and its Altiris management platform. Executives also touted Symantec's mobile device security and application management, its authentication and PKI capabilities, and showcased its simplified data center security concept and encryption consolidation.

The company's two strategic priorities are around unified information security and unified information management, said Stephen Gillett, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Symantec. IT teams are dealing with system complexity, big data issues and the threat posed by bring your own device and Shadow IT, or rogue cloud service in the organization, Gillett said.

"Your company needs the way you think and act as an IT leader to contribute in helping them navigate this complex world,” Gillett said, adding that part of the strategy should be creating more agile data centers and boosting endpoint visibility.

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