Symantec Launches Alliance Program Around Integrated Products

If you can't buy 'em, join 'em. That could be Symantec's most recent sales strategy with the launch of Symantec Alliance Network, a co-marketing program aimed at helping channel partners sell joint solutions birthed from key partnerships.

Thus far, Symantec has partnered with, and is selling integrated solutions from, Dell, ExaGrid, Hewlett-Packard and Quantum, although executives said there will be more alliance partnerships down the road.

Randy Cochran, Symantec vice president of channel sales for the Americas, said that among other things, the combined products are intended to give channel partners more options to provide value to their customers.

"It's the recognition of what our partners have been doing all along, knitting together solutions," Cochran said. "In recognition, we said, 'Let's see if we can't do that in a more coordinated push.'"

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For example, Dell's PowerVault DL Backup to Disk Appliance is powered by Symantec’s Backup Exec 2010. Another example: Quantum DXi-Series disk-based backup and deduplication appliances are integrated with Symantec's NetBackup.

Other solutions include ExaGrid's Disk backup appliance, bundled with the Symantec Backup Exec 2010, and HP ProLiant servers and BladeSystems, which include the Symantec Brightmail Gateway Virtual Edition.

Cochran said the joint solutions were "SKU'd up at distribution" with extra margin funded by Symantec and the partnering vendor. Through the program, Symantec channel partners can have access to training and enablement that better allow them to learn and market the joint solutions. The program allows partners to then access additional points on the backend, Cochran said.

However, while channel partners contend that the strategic partnerships are a good idea, the combined solutions won't necessarily translate into higher margins, they say.

Jonathan Dambrot, managing director of Warren, N.J.-based Prevalent Technologies, said that the existing Symantec-Quantum partnership did enable his company to drive some additional deals, but nothing "seismic."

"The biggest benefit is going to a client and showing the combined efforts," he said. "Quantum and Symantec are highlighting the technologies they have. It's more unified than it really has ever been."

Each of the alliance vendor partners has their own customized training package. However, Cochran said that many of Symantec solution providers were already in one or more of the Alliance partners' channel programs.

"It's a reflection of what partners are doing already. The alliance network is a way to formalize that," he said. "What we're really trying to do is provide that structure, so they can earn a little bit of extra on it."

One partner, who asked to speak off the record, said that some Symantec solutions can't be sold any other way than bundled.

"The only way we make money with Symantec SEP is selling it as a bundle," he said, adding, "They could keep Dell. That one doesn't turn me on."