Partners Hope Symantec CEO Brown Adds Security To His Storage Roots

Symantec's board of directors selected a new chief executive steeped in the storage industry, but channel partners interviewed by CRN say the company's strong security portfolio needs considerable attention to capture the hot market for threat protection technologies.

Michael Brown has already served a six-month stint as the interim CEO of Symantec and has been spearheading a review of the company's product portfolio. He was named the permanent replacement for ousted CEO Steve Bennett on Thursday.

Partners tell CRN that interest in security and data protection continues to be significant despite the internal turmoil at Symantec, which has gone on for much of the year. Symantec partners tout the company's mature endpoint protection platform, data loss prevention suite and encryption business as strong and significant products in the portfolio. Gartner predicts continued growth with information security spending projected to see 8.2 percent growth in 2015 to $76.9 billion.

[Related: Symantec Taps Interim Chief For Permanent CEO Post]

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Symantec needs to remain committed to the channel and also has to get innovative, said Kevin Wheeler, founder and managing director of Dallas-based information security services company InfoDefense.

"Symantec has good products and in my opinion they should be dominating the security market, but there is a perception that Symantec is watered down," Wheeler said. "Their effectiveness in the security market isn't at where it should be judging by the quality of their products."

Wheeler and other Symantec partners said it's too soon to tell how Symantec would be transformed now that Brown has been given complete control to establish a leadership team of his own.

Brown joined Symantec's board merger with Veritas Software in 2005 and had been CEO of storage giant Quantum, but his focus has been security over the last six months.

Symantec, under Brown, launched advanced threat protection managed service that includes incident response and reports on the threat landscape for specific industries. The company is also said to be readying the unveiling of an advanced threat protection platform which integrates its endpoint, email and gateway products and links to the company's networking security appliance partners.

"I'm not expecting him to be Steve Jobs, but he needs to set the agenda enough so the channel understands the products and what the roadmaps look like," said Jacob Tukuru, founder and president of Tukuru Technologies, a New York City-based IT consulting and managed services provider and Symantec partner. "We just have to believe that Symantec is a name that is going to be around long enough."

Partners will be gathering next month in Arizona at Partner Engage where they will have a broader audience with Brown and the leadership team. Partners recently told CRN they hoped Symantec would select a balanced leader with strong management skills and technical acumen to oversee product vision.

Symantec unveiled a completely redesigned North American partner program in May that focused on rewarding partners that could validate their "expert competency" in a technology area from Symantec. The program benefits partners that obtain advanced accreditation status and officially takes effect in October.

"Everyone has been in a holding pattern," said Paul Deur, a principal at Symantec partner Eden Technologies. "Any investment that Symantec make on the security side of the house that makes their portfolio stronger, more robust and integrated is always warranted. They should stick to the things that work, go deeper and create value by being leaders in the market."

When asked whether the company would focus more heavily on storage due to Brown's storage roots, Kristen Batch, vice president of Symantec's corporate communications, said Brown was chosen for his technology background.

"Mike's the right leader to take Symantec into the future," Batch said in an email to CRN. "The company's board of directors unanimously selected him after a six-month search because of his deep technology knowledge, experience growing a large public company and his track record for building strong leadership teams.’