Symantec PartnerEngage: Rolling Out The Four R's For VARs

Symantec executives said the channel program changes, rolled out Thursday at the company's PartnerEngage conference in Orlando, Fla., are part of its comprehensive campaign to promote "revenue, readiness, reputation and relevance."

Altogether, the launches included the online demonstration tool SymDemo, a revised enterprise renewal program, a new enterprise security specialization and a new online partner community called Symantec Connect.


Symantec followed last year's SymBrain online sales kit with the release of SymDemo, a virtualized, Web-based demo and training platform designed to help partners conduct product demos from anywhere with only a laptop and an Internet connection.

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Specifically, SymDemo will enable partners to showcase multiple products remotely without the need for a VPN connection, as in years past. And executives say that they hope to drive up product sales as customers are more able to demonstrate how products are used collaboratively.

Partners say that the new tool will ease the cost of doing business and provide an answer to problems created when product demonstrations utilize and expose actual customer data.

"To help ensure that we have the right protections, they'll have done all of that data collection and cleansing for us," said David Sockol, CEO of eMagined Security, based in Santa Clara, Calif. "It will be really nice. It's just going to really dramatically reduce my cost of doing business."

New Enterprise Authorized Renewals Program

Symantec enhanced its Enterprise Renewals Program, designed to honor the incumbent partner who originated the deal with increased margin and deal protection that provides a safety net for partners if undermined at the last minute by a competitor.

"We've defined a process to protect the incumbent. The partner that did the original piece of business, they're the only ones that will get this new rate," said Randy Cochran, Symantec's vice president of North American channel sales.

Altogether, the new rate is open to Gold and Platinum partners in the U.S. and Silver, Gold and Platinum partners in Canada, and applies to renewals of NetBackup, Storage Foundation, Cluster Server and Enterprise Vault.

Symantec executives said the revised program was in response to feedback elicited from its partner advisory council. Meanwhile, partners said implementing deal protection and margin increases on renewals was likely an attempt to start addressing some of the myriad renewal challenges that have plagued the company over the past several years.

"I think it's a good idea," said Gary Cannon, president of Advanced Internet Security based in Colorado Springs, Colo. "[In the past] the renewal margins were so low, the only reason you would do that renewal would be for the customer relationship. You're not making any money on it."

Cannon added that renewals, especially at the enterprise level, could be complex, time-consuming and costly. However, implementing higher margins would likely retain the partner as the main point of contact for renewals, which will ultimately help maintain existing relationships with the customer, Cannon said.

"It really comes down to a customer relationship issue. The partners more or less own the customer. They need that opportunity to get in touch with the customer," he said. "Renewals are a perfect way to open up the door."

New Enterprise Security Specialization

Symantec rolled out an Enterprise Security Specialization that gives partners qualified to sell Symantec Enterprise Security products access to additional incentives, programs and specialized content, as well as a listing as a Security Specialized partner within Symantec's Partner Locator.

The Enterprise specialization requires that partners retain a specified sales volume and required technical accreditations in Symantec Protection Suite Enterprise Edition.

Cochran said that the new Enterprise Security specialization, like the SMB specialization, centers around issues that enterprise customers typically face, which will give partners the ability to develop expertise and differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

And things such as enhanced deal-registration opportunities, promotions and added incentives included in the program will lead to higher margins and better revenue for the channel partners, he added.

The specialization will be available in late 2009 to Channel GSP, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Registered Partners in North America.

Symantec Connect

Symantec is also jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon by implementing its own online community, Symantec Connect, serving both customers and partners. Among other things, the new online community provides a forum for channel partners to reach out to other partners, ask questions, make suggestions and provide feedback on its forums, blogs and idea exchange.

Executives said there are 160,000 registered users so far, with a million visitors each month providing comments and content submissions. Altogether, the site has about 3 million page views per month.

Symantec executives maintained that the site provides a way for channel partners and Symantec customers to connect and exchange information and ideas around products, threats and other issues around security.

"There was a pent-up demand and need here for both our customers and our partners to interact and share information. It kind of stems from our technical interaction. We found by opening up the aperture, they really do have an appetite and a need for this exchange to take place."