Symantec Responds To Strategy Questions, Channel Optimistic

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Don't expect major changes to the Symantec partner program in the short term, but the company indicated on Wednesday that it plans to have its own sales force focused on new customers, relying increasingly on the channel to serve its existing customer base. Channel partners told CRN on Thursday that they are cautiously optimistic.

Symantec issued a Partner FAQ attempting to answer some questions about pending channel changes associated with its strategy shift.

The Mountain View Calif.-based security giant announced its Symantec 4.0 strategy unveiling plans for a reboot as it enters its fourth decade. Symantec's plan starts with organizational changes, but also includes an overhauled product set, integrating point solutions into a more cohesive portfolio. The organizational and product restructuring will also impact the channel, with partner program changes being rolled out incrementally through 2013.

[Related: Symantec Partners Hope Change Means Solution-Selling Approach]

Symantec has potential to have a successful turnaround by focusing on mobile and cloud, areas where channel providers say they're seeing a lot of interest. Specialized partners help establish a long-term connection with customers, said Joshua Huston, founder and information security advisor at Amesbury, Mass.-based Exultium, a Symantec Silver partner.

Exultium became a Symantec partner shortly after the company acquired mobile application management vendor Nukona in March 2012. Symantec also acquired mobile device management vendor Odyssey Software earlier that same month, and a well-integrated offering could be a win for partners, Huston said. Symantec can also find opportunities through increased adoption of cloud computing, according to Huston, and it can establish itself as a data protection leader through its data loss prevention product, another technology area the company got into through its acquisition of DLP leader Vontu in 2007.

Channel partners need to be a big part of establishing and maintaining connections, Huston said. When a company becomes very large and has a huge product portfolio, changing the channel program has consequences, he said.

"If they will focus on acquiring new customers but still leverage the channel by passing the business through, it's usually a good thing," Huston said. "It can turn negative if they acquire new customers directly and sell to them directly."

NEXT: Less Optimism For Symantec, But Some See Potential For Growth

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