Channel programs News

Symantec Shakes Up North American Distribution: Tech Data Out From Symantec Enterprise, Arrow Cut From Blue Coat

Michael Novinson

Symantec has undertaken a major shakeup of its distributor relationships. The security software company has cut North American ties with Tech Data around Symantec enterprise and Arrow around Blue Coat while unlocking a broader portfolio for Ingram Micro, Synnex and Westcon-Comstor.

Symantec, based in Mountain View, Calif., said it's in the process of integrating its distribution partners into a single landscape following the August 2016 close of its Blue Coat acquisition. Symantec said it is awarding distribution rights to either its enterprise security business (which includes the Blue Coat practice and part of Symantec), its legacy Symantec SMB business, or both sides of the company.

"We decided to fine-tune our distribution go-to-market approach by partnering with fewer, more strategic distributors who will provide more support to you during the sales cycle," Keith Weatherford, Symantec's vice president of Americas channel sales, wrote in a blog post.

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Symantec confirmed that Ingram Micro, Synnex and Westcon-Comstor were named authorized enterprise security distributors in North America. And the broadline distributors verified that Ingram Micro, Synnex and Tech Data are Symantec's authorized small business distributors in North America.

Symantec additionally confirmed it is no longer working with Arrow in North America (the distributor previously sold Blue Coat) and that Tech Data will no longer have access to Symantec's enterprise portfolio in the region. Arrow declined to comment for this story.

Ingram Micro and Synnex previously carried the entire Symantec product line in North America, while Westcon-Comstor carried just the Blue Coat offering, according to the respective companies.

"Our focus remains on working closely with our partner community to ensure a smooth rollout of our new distribution go-to-market model," Symantec said in a statement.

Following the acquisition of Blue Coat, Symantec put out a request for proposals (RFP) to distributors around the vendor's enterprise portfolio, according to Tracy Holtz, Tech Data's director of security. Although Tech Data expressed interest in the enterprise portfolio (it already carried Symantec enterprise products), Holtz said the company was only selected as a North American distributor for SMB and cloud.

"Honestly, our customer base was really focused around that SMB portfolio," Holtz told CRN. "So there's still enormous opportunity around our future strategy with Symantec."

Enterprise products are a smaller portion of Tech Data's Symantec portfolio, she said.

Tech Data was recently told it can no longer sell Symantec enterprise products from a net-new perspective, Holtz said. The distributor is still allowed to transact around existing quotes and renewals until June 30, Holtz said.

Tech Data plans to support existing partners around enterprise products through the timeframe it is able to transact with them, Holtz said, and is working with Symantec to figure out future product procurement for those partners. But the distributor would be interested in retaining its Symantec enterprise customers if possible, she said.

"We're always looking for opportunities to expand our business, so we're very open to talking with them about that [enterprise products] in the future," said Alex Ryals, Tech Data's vice president of security. "But we feel like we have a great opportunity in the SMB and cloud space right now."

Over the past six months, Holtz said, Symantec has fully integrated Blue Coat into its enterprise offerings, resulting in the vendor's decision to split its portfolio in two. As a result, Holtz said Symantec's small business offering is now housed separately and supported by salespeople focused entirely on the SMB space.

"It's two different entities internally within Symantec," Holtz said.

Holtz said Tech Data has invested pretty significantly over the past six months in API integration capabilities into Symantec's core platform. The distributor plans to move forward with integrating Symantec's upcoming cloud offerings around encryption and data loss prevention once they are unveiled.

"We have the right platforms from a cloud perspective to take these solutions to market," Holtz said. "So we're going to capitalize on it."

Ingram Micro, on the other hand, will not only retain access to the entire Symantec portfolio, but also gain access to Blue Coat's enterprise-grade data loss prevention capabilities. The Irvine, Calif.-based distributor also plans to extend Symantec's secure web gateway expertise into Blue Coat's existing partner base, said Eric Kohl, vice president of Ingram Micro's networking and security business unit.

"It's a testament to the strength of the security practice we've built," Kohl told CRN. "We've done a really good job at Ingram at providing excellence."

Ingram Micro is familiar with many of Blue Coat's existing partners, Kohl said, and serves them today around other vendors. Little overlap currently exists between Symantec and Blue Coat's existing set of channel partners, Kohl said, since the latter is serviced primarily by legacy networking and security-focused solution providers.

"There was not a lot of crossover in the channel," Kohl said.

More than 10,000 U.S.-based solution providers are buying security technology through Ingram Micro, and Kohl said the distributor has built a platform and strategy to help both new and existing channel partners become highly-profitable, highly-trusted security advisors.

Synnex and Westcon-Comstor didn't immediately respond to requests for additional information. Synnex has been working with Symantec since 2002 and was named the company's Distributor of the Year in 2015.

One solution provider who sources Symantec through Tech Data said the distribution changes have been disruptive, with the partner having to request quotes item-by-item only to learn that some of the offerings could no longer be procured through Tech Data.

"There has been pushback on some opportunities," said the partner, who didn't wish to be identified. "We send them everything and see what sticks."

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