Partners Cautious On New Symantec Channel Chief

Symantec channel partners have taken a wait-and-see attitude toward the company's choice of a direct sales veteran to replace outgoing channel chief Randy Cochran.

Cochran, the face of Symantec's channel sales in the Americas for eight years, resigned Friday to "pursue other opportunities," the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said. He will be replaced with John Eldh, vice president of sales for the company's cloud business unit and a seven-year Symantec veteran. Cochran is scheduled to leave March 31 with Eldh taking over the next day.

"I'd like to thank Randy for his eight years of leadership in Symantec's channel organization and wish him the best in the next phase of his career," Rich Spring, senior vice president of Americas sales, said in a letter to channel partners sent to CRN.

While the company declined further comment, Spring assured partners that the company would continue driving a majority of its business through the channel. "Under John's leadership in FY13, we will put a relentless focus on driving growth in the Americas by leveraging the strength of our partner ecosystem."

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One Symantec partner, who did not want to be identified, said it is likely that Cochran is set to take another channel chief job. "My bet is he is taking a channel job at another company," the partner said. "There aren’t too many triggers for an executive at that level to leave a company like Symantec. I didn’t know him well, but Symantec has consistently been a good partner with us."

Other partners had a wait-and-see attitude toward Eldh. "It's too soon to tell, for us," Daniel Duffy, chief executive officer of Fresno, Calif.-based Valley Network Solutions, said.

NEXT: Some Partners Have Concerns

Jennifer Mazzanti, president and co-founder of Hoboken, N.J.-based eMazzanti, was concerned that Eldh's experience was skewered too much toward direct sales and not enough toward the channel. "They went with a sales executive who isn't necessarily strictly focused on the channel and sometimes that's difficult," she said. "They [sales executives] don't come in with the perspective of the partner."

Brad Thompson, executive vice president of sales and marketing at San Francisco-based Bear Data Solutions, believed Cochran had done a good job. "The programs Symantec rolled out over the last few years were very profitable, and very partner-centric," he said.

Cochran, who has worked in indirect sales for 27 years, is leaving the company as it rolls out a cloud security platform that will be available to channel partners in the second half of the year. O3 represents a big step in Symantec's move toward selling security as an Internet service. Those partners selling the platform will have to adopt a subscription model, rather than the more familiar licensing associated with on-premise software.

Last October, Cochran pushed attendees of the company's Partner Engage conference to look beyond on-premise security software and sell new products related to virtualization, cloud and mobility. "I want you to step outside your comfort zone and look for new and creative ways of doing business," he said.

Selling cloud products has been Eldh's most recent job with Symantec. As vice president of sales for the company's cloud business, he drove the sales strategy for the Americas, the company said. Prior to that, Eldh led the direct and channel sales team for the U.K., Ireland and the Nordics Region.

As head of channel sales for the Americas, Eldh will be responsible for enterprise channel and distribution strategy, as well as partner programs for all market segments.