Symantec Is Going Back To The Future

Symantec CEO Mike Brown must feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off his shoulders now that his company is focused squarely on the red-hot security market.

Brown & Company has the potential to go from a worst-to-first scenario now that Symantec has sold off the Veritas storage business. If you want a textbook look at just how disastrous a merger can be, look no further than Symantec's $13.5 billion acquisition 10 years ago of onetime storage high-flyer Veritas Software.

The deal failed on each and every count, from strategic vision to product/technology integration to sales execution. Symantec became so distracted by its heavy weight it has found upstarts eating its security lunch, including Palo Alto Networks and FireEye. To say Symantec is an underdog even as a $4 billion security behemoth is not a stretch. What's interesting is just how much security firepower has been sitting under the hood and going unnoticed by solution providers and customers.

[CRN Exclusive: CEO Michael Brown On What Partners Can Expect From The 'New' Symantec]

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That is about to change if Brown's new hard-driving, experienced channel-centric management team executes on its vision.

One of Brown's epochal moments came when he reached out to old friend Adrian Jones—who worked side by side with Brown for 10 years at Quantum. Jones, a highly regarded channel champion, joined Symantec just seven months ago as executive vice president and general manager of global sales and operations and already is making a big impact.

Jones is best known for driving a channel renaissance at Hewlett-Packard during the three years he headed up the partner organization there starting in 2007. He is now driving the same kind of channel clarity and commitment at Symantec. In fact, he is building his own channel team, bringing in talent from his days at HP including Senior Vice President, Global Partner Sales John Thompson and Vice President, Global Channel Programs Tom LaRocca.

The channel "A-Team" already has committed up to four times more partner incentives and a 10 percent increase in field channel reps. And it has committed to fixing the dearth of product knowledge among the partner community that caused many solution providers to look elsewhere when it came to security.

Symantec, in fact, has a world-class security analytics platform powered in large part by its endpoint security prowess and a world-class technical team directing the product strategy, including Samir Kapuria, senior vice president of cybersecurity service. Kapuria, an 11-year Symantec veteran who previously was a top executive for a security consulting company, understands the channel. His technical smarts will be critical as Symantec sets about using its cash to snatch up some cutting-edge security companies.

Up until now, Symantec has been asleep at the security wheel. The security giant has awakened and is getting ready to make its move. Now it's a question of whether it can execute and convince more partners to lead with its products and services once again.

BACKTALK: What are your metrics for success in the cloud era? Contact Steven Burke at [email protected].