Symantec Rolls Out Symantec University for Partners

"It's skills enablement, really," said John Magee, vice president of enterprise product and services marketing for Symantec. "It's another tool in the quiver."

The program, announced at the 2008 Symantec Partner Engage conference in Washington, D.C., is available to all members of the Symantec Partner Program.

Like its name suggests, Symantec University brings copious training methods and technologies under one roof. And partners say that the beefed up training program will make their lives a little simpler by providing training tools and resources that are easier to find and access.

"A lot of the tools, instead of being scattered all over the place, they'll be in one, easy to reference area," said Kevin McCann, vice president of Bedford, Mass-based Continental Resources. "What it's going to do is put all those tools together."

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Altogether Symantec University for Partners provides resources specifically aimed at increasing solution provider knowledge on Symantec's products and services that, in turn, will result in strategic recommendations to their end user customers.

The program incorporates intelligence-based tools, resources and collaborative platforms, and will include both product and role-based curriculum.

Specifically, partners will have access to live classroom training, hands-on lab experiences, on-demand eLearning and expert mentoring. The enhanced training also enables partners to collaborate in live peer-to-peer discussions enabling them to communicate with sales engineers, solutions architects and professional service consultants via a Partner Technical Forum.

Partners say that the tool will allow partners with specialties to communicate more effectively, which will inherently broaden their knowledge base and create opportunities to expand their portfolio outside of their core competency.

"It's going to drive business," said Mike Shook, president and CEO of Consonus, based in Cary, N.C. "To be able to make (customer) calls and reasonably competent calls, it's going to be really helpful."

The beefed-up intelligence is driven by SymBrain, an interactive mapping tool designed to help partners determine the best solution for their customers, as well as helping them identify cross-sell opportunities and ways to maximize value adds. The intelligent data base provides recommendations to partner queries regarding their customer's IT security challenges.

"What we're really trying to do is focus on information that's timely and focused around the trends that are going on out there," said Magee. "Wherever you are, you can build out."

Executives say that they have already outlined various ways to encourage partners to utilize the tool, which is currently live, with educational roadshows, seminars and promotions.

Partners say that the comprehensive training program provides an answer to numerous Symantec training and support issues, many of which date back to the company's acquisition of Veritas in 2005 followed by copious integration and support issues created with the subsequent ERP upgrade.

In addition, McCann said that the University also provides a consistent means for partners to get on the same page when they join the company following an acquisition. While partners are often familiar with their own companies' line of products, many have experienced problems adjusting to Symantec's products after being acquired, McCann said.

"When they first pick (Symantec solutions) up, they're not fully integrated, and that has caused some problems," said McCann."This is something (Symantec) been working on and as they merge with more and more companies, it makes it a bigger and better database."