Bloom: Wait And See

That&s the message from Gary Bloom, former Veritas CEO and now vice chairman and president of Symantec.

“We did not want to disrupt our business or disrupt your business,” Bloom said to partners at Symantec&s Partner Engage conference in Phoenix last week. “It&s going to be an ongoing process. Don&t sit back waiting for the big event.”

While Bloom conceded in an interview with CRN that partners are hungry for information on how they can leverage the combination of Symantec&s security and Veritas& backup and availability products, that hunger is better than the vendor coming out with “something too quickly that is disruptive to their business.”

The integration of the product lines and channel programs, while under way, will be delivered in steps, Bloom said. First, the company will deliver product bundles. It recently released Symantec e-mail security with Backup Exec.

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The company also is working to tie Symantec&s DeepSight vulnerability monitoring with backup, he said. Within 12 months of the merger, which officially closed July 2, Symantec expects to have a common look and feel for the products and deeper integration, including installing bundled products from the same console, Bloom said. It also plans to extend Symantec&s LiveUpdate function to Veritas backup products, he said.

“With our partner community, we did not go in immediately and say, ‘Here&s the new business plan,& ” Bloom added. “As we bring the product portfolios together and bring integrated bundles, we&re going to have to start integrating our business practices and models.”

Like the product integration, the channel program integration will come in phases, said Randy Cochran, vice president of Americas channel sales at Symantec. “We have a good idea of where we want this program to end up, but we will deliver it over time to avoid disruption of our partners& businesses,” he said.

The go-slow approach has its pluses and minuses for partners, said Rick Marcotte, president and CEO of DLT Solutions, a federal integrator in Herndon, Va.

“The good news is that the Symantec people are listening to us. They want our input before they put the program together,” he said. “But there are still questions about margins, sourcing and licensing that need to be worked out. At some juncture, there is going to have to be some clarity.”

John Jabbusch, president and chief engineer of Carolina Advanced Digital, Siler City, N.C., said he, too, is waiting for that clarity, “but I don&t want them to force it together.”

At Partner Engage last week, partners did learn of some of the changes to come. One of the first major steps will be a combined deal registration program, slated to roll out in the fourth quarter, Cochran said. The new program combines the best elements of both programs, including front-end and back-end rebates and a 48-hour approval promise, he said.

Also, the combined company will follow Symantec&s channel-centric approach, Cochran said. “The availability side had more of a propensity to go direct. We&re going to get more of that to go through the channel.”

That&s encouraging, said Michael Trautman, vice president of sales at Adexis, a Veritas partner in Columbus, Ohio. “Over the past few years, there has been a refinement on the Veritas side. Things were getting much better,” he said. “From what I know and what I have heard about the Symantec side, it can only get better.”