Symantec Program Gives SMBs Option Of Security Subscriptions


Specifically, executives say that revamped ExSP program was designed to help partners cut overhead expenses and reward them for their growth by reducing licensing costs as their volume of business increases.

Executives say that the new program also addresses the rapidly accelerating trend toward managed services, but is targeted especially for the SMB space known for its limited IT resources and staff. The option of adopting a subscription model made sense due to the fact that it evenly distributes payments and reduces complexity, executives said.

"(The channel program is) a recognition that this is really what customers want. They want that choice," said Randy Cochran, Symantec vice president of North American channel sales. "(SMBs) are in business because of their business. They don't look at IT. It’s a necessity for them. Give them the option to either buy it or rent it. Why not?"

The ExSP program itself has been around since 2006, but was limited to Symantec's large ISPs and telcos, Cochran said. The recent channel changes extended the program to all its partners enrolled in Symantec's Partner Program, regardless of size, market emphasis or level.

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Cochran said that Symantec offers a host of training formats for partners wanting to embark on an MSSP model or expand their managed services portfolio. Online training includes Webinars and WebEx's offering technical training as well as logistical education on how partners sign up customers and how the subscription model is delivered through distribution.

"Partners are kind of excited about it," Cochran said, which he said was evident "when you get the reaction, 'It's about time, wish we had it sooner," he said.

Channel partners say that the tweak might not necessarily compel them to expand their managed services portfolio, but would likely help customers by giving them one more buying option.

"I suppose, it will be easier to do business with them, the more buying options the customer has," said Jonathan Dambrot, managing director of Warren, N.J.-based Prevalent Networks. "Some clients will take advantage of it but I'm not sure how it's going to be perceived."

Symantec channel partners say that the launch aligns with other initiatives the company has made, as it leans toward more subscription-based offerings.

David Sockol, CEO of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Emagined Security, said that providing software offerings as a subscription enabled Symantec, and subsequently its channel partners, to reach a wider customer base, especially cash-strapped SMBs, by distributing the significant up-front costs over a period of years.

That subscription-based model also frees up cash for smaller customers to make other IT purchases, he added.

While channel partners might not be getting the same initial margin as a software sale, the subscription option does allow solution providers to enter markets and make sales with customers who might not have otherwise considered the deal, Sockol said.

"That's really nice for a lot of situations where (customers) have a 'use it or lose it' type budget each year. They basically can take the full amount [of the product] and divide by three years, or whatever the timeframe is," Sockol said. "What's really nice about what Symantec is doing is that they are creating new ways to solve problems that were previously cost-prohibitive."