PHOENIX — Symantec‘s business partners came to the west this week to hear how the company, which officially swallowed Veritas 77 days ago, will merge channel programs and products.

But the company’s vice-chair and president said he won’t be quick on the draw.

“We’re aiming first and then we’ll figure out how to fire the gun,” Gary Bloom said in an interview with ITBusiness.ca before the first combined partner conference with resellers from both Symantec and Veritas began Thursday. “But that said, it’s not a big bang theory. It’s not our goal to pull the rug out from under any of our partners. It’s to evolve them into a bigger business with us.”

Some 300 partners are here to learn how they’ll make money from the integration of Veritas, a backup and recovery specialist, into Symantec, which focuses on network security, to create a software company with about US$5 billion in annual revenue.

In their opening remarks, Bloom and other company executives repeatedly emphasized that Symantec is a channel-driven company. They repeated the message they’ve been saying for months: that security and recovery products are a natural fit for organizations concerned with availability and compliance. But they also said they want to hear from and work with partners to hone things right.

“We need your help in building a partner program that effectively penetrates markets where there are tremendous amounts of opportunity,” said Tom Kendra, the company’s newly-appointed executive vice-president of sales and services.

Going further, he noted Symantec only pulls in three per cent of its revenue from services delivered by partners. “We have woefully inadequate coverage from partners who can help us sell and deliver services. We need your help.” 

To give them a hand Symatec will create so-called “yellow books” (derived from the company’s official colour) of technical advice for customizing the new joint solutions the company will be creating to help speed installations and optimize performance.

“Our commitment to you is as we go through all of these solutions not only will we deliver to you a roadmap of what products we have with services, we’ll tell you where we’re not and where we need your help.”

Bloom made it clear in an interview the new company is taking a deliberate approach to creating new channel and licensing programs.

For example, the Veritas brand will remain on its backup and recovery products for up to 12 months. Product names, however, will stay the same. For the time being, Symantec and Veritas price lists will be compiled and delivered separately, and product ordering systems will remain separate. The partner certification programs will also remain separate, although eventually will be merged.

On the other hand the company is starting to release bundled Symantec-Veritas combos, such as boxed versions Symantec AntiVirus with Veritas Backup Executive for Windows. Licenced versions of these bundles will be available in the next quarter. 

Details on some efforts, however, were sketchy. Marlene Williamson, vice-president of marketing for the Americas, said Symantec and Veritas marketing programs will be combined “over the next couple of quarters.”

“One of the key things we’re trying to do and the reason we’re tying to be sensitive is we do not want to dilute the businesses of our channel partners,” Bloom said in the interview. “We don’t want to dilute their effectiveness in selling the technologies. And to be clear, we do no want people selling products that aren’t really qualified to provide the services and the knowledge surrounding those products. We want to make sure our channel partners are somewhat protected in what they sell and the customer is somewhat protected in who they’re buying from, that they’re buying from knowledgeable sources.

“We’re in process of working on an integrated partner program,” he added. “We’re using this conference and the advisory session to make sure we take the input and the perspective our key channel partners in the planning process. But there won’t be a big event . . . they’re not going to wake up one morning and have everything thrown up in the air. We’re not going to do disruptive change. These are going to be incremental chances over time and we’ll start over time launching common channel programs.”

As part of the conference, company executives met Wednesday with the merged global and North American partner councils for advice.

“Partners (on the councils) are very positive on what Symantec can do,” said Michael Quartarone, director of software sales at NexInnovations, a  Mississauga, Ont., solution provider who sits on both bodies.  “My bet is they’re going to succeed and deliver real value to the marketplace.”

“They’re going to need help and they’re going to rely on the channel for help,” said David Hall, chief technology officer for Compucom, a Dallas-based solution provider with offices in four Canadian cities.

But he also believes Symantec will master the merger because it has a history of working well with VARs.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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