VARs Applaud Symantec's Endpoint Protection

Symantec used its Partner Engage conference this week in San Diego to introduce new programs and encourage its solution providers to get started selling a wider range of the vendor's products.

But it was the announcement by channel executives that Symantec released its new Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) to manufacturing and will begin shipping it by the end of the month that moved the audience of over 100 solution providers to clap out loud.

Symantec Endpoint Protection based in large part on Symantec's acquisitions of Sygate Technologies and Whole Security, addresses security and compliance issues across a company's entire infrastructure, including servers, desktops, and mobile PCs, through a single console.

SEP 11.0 includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, intrusion prevention, and device control capabilities, all managed through one console. The Small Business Edition also includes security for Microsoft Exchange mailboxes, while the Multi-tier Protection also offers Domino and SMTP email security.

Sponsored post

Symantec Network Access Control 11.0 will be available as a separate licensed product. SNAC secures access to networks and enforces endpoint security policies using the same agent as SEP.

Several solution providers said they hoped to hear at the conference that Symantec would shortly offer SEP, and they were not disappointed.

After seeing a demonstration of SEP, Dave Cerniglia, president of Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider, called the offering impressive because it offers access control from a single place with low memory overhead on the agents being an important feature.

"Add to that the fact that users can lock out devices like USB drives, and it's really important," Cerniglia said. "It all comes down to risk management for the customer."

SEP is a positive move for Symantec and for its partners who will be able to bring new solutions to customers, said Norm Shockley, CEO of Adeara, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Symantec partner.

"Symantec is taking a lot of existing technologies, pulling them closer together, and enhancing them," Shockley said. "A lot of products seem to be overlapping. Now Symantec is defining them, and putting them in the right spots."

Symantec also used the conference to roll out a number of new programs for channel partners.

One of those programs, the SMB Specialization for Partners, 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 or 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.

Symantec also unveiled two new services programs for its solution providers, the first in a series of new partner-specific programs it intends to introduce over the next 12 to 18 months.

The first is the Symantec Authorized Consulting Partner Program, which is aimed at bringing Symantec's best practices through the channel to security, compliance, systems management, and storage management customers, said Jeff Hausman, vice president of product management for the vendor.

It offers gold-level and platinum-level Symantec solution providers who work with enterprise customers access to the company's intellectual property related to services to bring new services to those customers, Hausman said.

That intellectual property includes Symantec's knowledge, tips, tricks, and other information needed for services, as well as help with account planning and business management, priority access to enterprise support, help in designing joint solutions, and account project managers for each different service, Hausman said.

In return, Symantec will ask its channel partners to commit in writing to bringing in a six-figure revenue for the services, Hausman said. He would not reveal the exact amount of the commitment.

Next: Symantec helps partners sell their services

Also new is the Technical Authorized Partner Program which Symantec will use to help partners sell their own services to customers with support from the vendor, Hausman said.

TAPP is aimed at solution providers who want to integrate their own support services on top of the basic services that come with the sale of Symantec software, and includes information on how to do the support, along with priority access to Symantec's support queue.

TAPP is available to partners separately from the company's Technical Support Partner Program (TSPP), under which solution providers deliver support services on behalf of Symantec, Hausman said.

The company also unveiled a number of smaller changes to its products and channel program.

Enrique Salem, Symantec's group president of worldwide sales, said that the company is looking to simplify how it licenses its products by cutting down the number of licensing meters, including number of CPUs or number of seats, to about 20 by year-end, compared to the over 100 licensing meters currently used.

Symantec is also increasing the number of phone support personnel available to the channel, and looking to make it easier to quickly escalate from level 1 to level 2 support, Salem said. For instance, for the launch of Symantec Endpoint Protection, the vendor added about 300 new support personnel, and is now training them.

Effective this month, Symantec is also doubling the threshold under which a channel partner must submit a copy of the customer's purchase order, Parrish said. The new threshold is $1 million per order, compared to the current $500,000, she said.

The purchase order requirement came into play because of regulatory concerns which required proof that software that was sold was actually ordered by the customer, Parrish said.

"It was a clunky thing to go from the customer to the reseller to the distributor," she said. "It's common in the industry, but for some reason we set the threshold too low. A lot of people needed to read the P.O., which would hold up a lot of deals at the end of the quarter."

Randy Cochran, vice president of Symantec's channel sales, also unveiled a couple of new promotions, including a $100 American Express give card to the first 200 solution providers who complete the SMB Specialization.

Cochran also said that upgrading a customer to Symantec Endpoint Protection, or replacing a competitive product with it, will result in a cash bonus to solution providers under the Big Draw Promotion, which is currently focused on Backup Exec.

Throughout the conference, Symantec's theme was that solution providers need to look beyond their legacy security expertise or legacy storage expertise and work with the vendor's full range of products.

During his keynote presentation, John Thompson, Symantec chairman and CEO, said that the growth in the amount of data being created is only going to accelerate, especially as only 20 percent of the world today is connected to the Internet. "Think of what will happen when everyone is connected," he said.

That growth in information requires companies to find new way to secure their data. "People are not going to want to see their lives invaded like they have in the last few years," Thompson said.

Symantec will continue to depend on the channel to both manage and protect customer data, and help customers with compliance issues, Thompson said.

"We will be a channel company," he said. "We will not sacrifice your processes for our processes. That won't change unless something earth-shaking affects us and affects you, and I don't see that happening. You are too critical to what we do. We can't get to our eventual goal—world dominance—without you."

Pat Edwards, vice president of sales at Alliance Technology Group, a Hanover, Md.-based solution provider, said he enjoyed hearing Thompson talk about the Symantec vision. "It gives me motivation, and reminds me of where Symantec came from, and where it wants to go," Edwards said.

Symantec has a solid product portfolio that covers a lot of customer issues, and has made significant positive changes in how it works with partners in the last year, Edwards said. And, he said, the vendor knows it needs to continue to improve.

"They do recognize the need for change," he said. "Our business with them is still growing. We get pretty good help from our local sales manager. It's just that some of the processes need to be fine-tuned."