Symantec PartnerEngage 2010: 5 Big Takeaways

Symantec Partne Engage: You'll Learn Stuff

Symantec's PartnerEngage 2010 conference has already come and gone. Held Nov. 2-4 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the annual partner conference treated Symantec Partners to a parade of keynotes, breakout sessions and parties. Partners even managed to do a little networking.

In addition to the expected channel tweaks and enablement enhancements, Symantec executives hammered home numerous messages regarding new channel expectations, services and enablement opportunities, representing some of the biggest changes the company has made to its channel program in the last five years.

Here are five of the biggest takeaways partners will be left with as they board their planes back home.

Specialize, Specialize, Specialize

Did we mention that you'll need to specialize? By far the biggest news to come out of the PartnerEngage conference was that Symantec made fundamental changes to its channel program, doing away with previous revenue requirements, and instead replacing them with a total of nine solution and market segment specializations -- 10 come February -- that partners will need to obtain in order to achieve Silver, Gold or Platinum status.

But specializing won't just give partners the ability to move up the ranks. By going deep in a particular solution, such as DLP or Endpoint Management, partners will be able access additional discounts and higher services margins and backend rebates.

Services Are Yours, All Yours (Finally)

It might have taken a little doing, but Symantec is finally stepping out of the services business altogether and handing over a barrage of intellectual property and other resources necessary for partners to take the lead on a channel-driven services proclamation.

The channel-led services business is ultimately necessary for the success of Symantec's new specializations-focused channel program, which requires partners to develop extensive expertise in a chosen solution set or sets.

The initiative also represents a major paradigm shift for Symantec. The company began embarking on a partner-led services model a year ago, but the program was problematic due to the fact that it juxtaposed the existing direct services model with an indirect one, leading to territory issues and channel conflict.

It's All About People And Information

But what about devices? Well, yeah. There're those too. But one of the messages that Symantec CEO Enrique Salem repeatedly underscored in front of hundreds of channel partners is that the personal information, and the people who own that information, are really what's important. Often the device is irrelevant.

Salem emphasized that the convergence of business and personal media, the exponential growth of mobile devices, and the increasing adoption of virtualization are all major and growing trends that promise users easy access to data and better communication while simultaneously posing an increased risk to users' most precious information.

As such, Salem said that Symantec was continuing on making a paradigm shift that focuses on the creation and collaboration of holistic, data-centric solutions that deliver data to users, regardless of the medium.

Get Enabled, We'll Help

As of now, there are more ways for Symantec partners to become enabled than just a few days ago. For one, there's Symantec Virtual Labs, a cloud-based virtualization demo that includes online tools SymBrain and SymDemo, used for showcasing products with only a laptop and an Internet connection.

Partners can also go to Symantec IQ, a comprehensive repository of information, which includes reports, documents, presentations and tools and anything else they need for sales, services and support. Marketing just got a little easier with the debut of the Symantec Briefing Center, a dedicated space at the Symantec headquarters for partners to make presentations and answer questions for their customers. And even scribbled presentations on the white board just got a little more entertaining with the launch of Symantec's Digital Whiteboard.

For an added incentive, partners can now collect reward SymPoints, which they can trade in for prizes or travel opportunities.

Watch The SaaS Space

Executives told channel partners to keep a close eye on the SaaS space. Over the next few years Symantec plans to significantly expand its hosted services business -- all told to about 15 percent -- which is bound to provide numerous opportunities for channel partners.

Down the road, Symantec will migrate more of its products to hosted services, allowing channel partners to possibly engage more customers adopting cloud services and giving the ability to manage more customers' at a time.

Details were scarce on how Symantec's emerging SaaS business would evolve or if and how a direct SaaS model would conflict with a hosted services model provided by channel partners. But maybe executives assumed there would be time to iron out the kinks until next year.