Symantec, Veritas Say Combined Company Will Invest Heavily In Channel

"This is a game-changing announcement that brings channel assets into the forefront of delivering on the growth potential inherent in these two organizations coming together," said Michael Slotnick, vice president of Americas partner sales at Veritas, Mountain View, Calif. "The channel will continue to be center-stage as a key element of our go-to-market strategy."

Allyson Seelinger, vice president of global channel sales and strategy at Symantec, Cupertino, Calif., agreed, insisting that the resulting channel is not "about reducing costs," and that she did not foresee any layoffs.

While Seelinger offered few details regarding how the channel and channel leadership would evolve, she said the new organization would provide huge opportunities for solution providers that, in particular, serve the mid-market -- the one area where Symantec and Veritas products essentially overlap.

"We have complementary product lines that will allow our partners to sell a much broader set of products and meet a broader set of needs," she said. "We see this as an enormous opportunity for all of our partners."

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John Schwarz, Symantec's president and COO, added that Symantec's stable of nearly 30,000 partners, combined with hundreds of enterprise-level partners from Veritas, should create a formidable reseller channel that will compete with those from the likes of IBM, Cisco Systems and BMC Software.

Schwarz said the new organization will drive demand in the enterprise market through a direct sales force, but will look to fulfill those leads through solution providers and system integrators.

"We are intent on being one of the leading software powerhouses, and our channel partners are going to play a huge role in helping us get there," he said.

Solution providers that already sell both Symantec and Veritas solutions should find it relatively easy to integrate both lines, said Randy Cochran, Symantec's vice president of channels for North America. But, said Cochran, partners that currently specialize in only one line of products must make an investment " to become fluent on the other side."

Solution providers' reaction to the announcement was encouraging. Darrel Bowman, CEO of Apptech, a Symantec and Veritas reseller in Tacoma, Wash., enthusiastically hailed the news as the first "major salvo" in the convergence of storage, systems and security management as an industry.

"What Veritas lacked in channel strategy and relationship development, Symantec is sure to bring to the table," said Bowman, who predicted he could increase Veritas sales anywhere from 20 percent to 30 percent in the first 18 months. "This could change everything [in the industry as a whole]."

Others said the combined company will have a tremendous opportunity to distinguish itself from competitors by integrating traditionally separate technologies.

"It's going to force some of these security-only or storage-only companies to figure out a way to [partner through] ecosystems or co-opetition," said John Freres, president of Meridian IT Solutions, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based solution provider that works with both vendors.

JENNIFER HAGENDORF FOLLETT contributed to this story