Symantec: Not Just Antivirus Anymore

Following a yearlong binge of acquisitions, Symantec's channel executives report that 70 percent of all the deals being tracked through the company's deal-registration process involve multiple Symantec products, and only 5 percent of the total volume of those deals involves antivirus software.

In addition to enabling Symantec partners to sell a broader range of products that includes firewall and intrusion-detection tools, Symantec plans to let some partners resell consulting services that will be provided by employees of @Stake, a security consulting firm Symantec acquired two months ago.

Symantec also expects to create a set of managed service offerings that can be resold by select channel partners. Today, Symantec offers a managed service offering that takes complete control of a customer's security infrastructure. In the future, it hopes to offer a set of managed services around specific Symantec products that solution providers can co-brand and then weave into a larger set of managed services, said Randy Cochran, vice president of the Americas channel sales at Symantec, Cupertino, Calif.

The existing managed service offering from Symantec is sold direct by the company and a very limited number of partners. The additional co-branded managed services would be offered through a broader set of partners, he said.

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"We'd actually like to have several partners signed up very quickly to help beta-test this process," said Cochran.

Solution providers told about Symantec's plans to expand professional services opportunities were quick to advise that Symantec should concentrate its efforts on the SMB market, where the value of professional services is less understood compared with enterprise accounts.

Susan Jabbusch, vice president of Carolina Advanced Digital, a Symantec partner in Silver City, N.C., said Carolina Advanced Digital is one of the few VARs offering professional services for Symantec's iCommand, a complex platform that centralizes network software management. From her experience with iCommand, Jabbusch said that enterprise customers mostly understand the need for professional services, and will buy them from VARs if Symantec makes them available to the channel.

But "many customers in the SMB market do not see the value of ongoing professional services," said Jabbusch, and she thinks Symantec could help partners turn that thinking around.

To maximize the value of its @Stake acquisition, Symantec in early 2005 also expects to make available security courseware and tools created by @Stake that will train partners to more effectively sell the broad array of Symantec products. Those tools will also be made available online so partners can use them at actual customer sites.

"The acquisition of @Stake is a terrific complement to our products and our partners' existing business. It gives us the intellectual capital around higher-end services that we didn't have before," said Allyson Seelinger, vice president of global channel sales at Symantec. "We're now creating training programs to impart this newfound wisdom to our partners."

Those tools will complement other tools being developed by Symantec, which include a security analysis tool called Inform that is now being beta-tested. Inform helps solution providers and customers identify potential security hazards, pins a dollar figure on the cost of getting hit by those hazards, and then assists in recommending the proper defenses, according to Symantec.

DAN NEEL contributed to this story.