Symantec To SMB VARs: Get Specialized

The company on Wednesday unveiled the SMB Specialization for Partners, a program which gives solution providers who work with small businesses the chance to get the benefits of Symantec's partner programs with a minimum of effort.

To get the SMB Specialization, solution providers who are currently at the channel registered for the silver level need to complete and pass specific on-line training in five areas, said Julie Parrish, vice president of Symantec's global channel office.

Three of those areas are mandatory, including Symantec Backup Exec 11d, Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 7.0, and Symantec Enterprise Protection 11.0, Parrish said. In addition, solution providers need to choose two other areas from a list of possibilities, including Network Access Control, Mail Security, Hosted Mail Security, IM Manager, Ghost Solution Suite, and PC Anywhere, she said. The training is free, she said.

Once those five areas are complete, solution providers get a listing on Symantec's on-line partner locater, an SMB Specialist certificate, two free technical support incidents within a year, free not-for-resale products related to the areas of specialization for demonstration purposes, access to a mid-market account manager, sales tools, and access to exclusive promotions, Parrish said.

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"We're making it easier to move up to the next level, whether silver, gold, or platinum," she said. "It's a consistent theme with Symantec: We need to be easier to do business with. The specialization program makes it easier for partners."

Randy Cochran, vice president of channel sales at Symantec, admitted that the SMB Specialization program was pulled together from a variety of existing products and programs.

The main difference is formalization of the process, Cochran said. "Before, we left it up to partners to navigate the process," he said. "Now it's set up so they can get it more easily."

Sean Falkner, network technician at Information Networking, an Irvine, Calif.-based small business solution provider and Symantec partner, said that his company does not sell enough of the vendor's products to qualify for silver level, but that an easy way to attain some sort of partner status would help.

"We would be interested in the program so we can get the tools and the NFR (not-for-resale) products," Falkner said. "I just don't know if we have enough demand to get to the silver level on our own."