Symantec Sees Channel Opportunity in SAAS

Symantec officials say its channel partners should not be afraid of software as a service.

Note to channel partners and industry watchers – the emphasis on services is nothing to fear for Symantec partners, company officials said.

"We shouldnt look at this as some boogie man thats going to eat up the channel," said Symantec CEO John Thompson during a roundtable at the Symantec Partner Engage conference in San Diego on Sept. 11. "We should look at this just as we do every one of the software products that we launch."

Services have been a growing focus for the company, and Thompson has said a number of times he hopes that by 2010, 10 percent of the companys revenues will be derived from services. Symantec officials hope to hit the $10 billion mark for total revenues by then.

Seeking to address concerns about potential channel conflicts and difficulties arising from selling a service as opposed to software, Thompson stated he sees the potential for SAAS (software as a service) to enable partners to reach a market that may otherwise go untapped.

"There are still many, many companies, particularly small to midsized companies, who have not been touched appropriately by the more traditional software distribution model; they dont have the relevant skills to do backup and recovery [for example]," he said.


Read more here about about how Symantec plans to build up its SAAS portfolio.

"And if this distribution model gives us the ability to touch them to where they can have a better strategy for data protection just as a larger organization would, its in our collective best interest to do that."

The companys channel partners need to decide on their own whether or not to shift their business model to sell services, a decision not to be made lightly, he said.

"Our view is once they have made that decision…we need to provide the training programs and the ongoing technical support that allows them to be effective at the point of engagement," Thompson said.

"So a lot of our certification programs, a lot of training activities that we engage with them in are all about not only helping them be effective on the front end but sustaining any momentum that they can create themselves."

Randy Cochran, Symantecs vice president of channel sales in the Americas, said it would be smart for partners to sell both services and software so they can go either way with customers. His statements echoed Julie Parrish, vice president of the companys Global Channel Office. The company needs the channel to succeed in its SAAS strategy, she said.

"Its not like you take out an ad and everybody comes flying," she said, referring to users.

With that in mind, Symantec officials are planning to launch a number of new partner programs Sept. 12 around the service segment of the companys business. The programs are aimed at helping partners more effectively target segments of the market and build up their services portfolio.

The announcements, officially under wraps for now, include the first of a number of partner-specific programs Symantec will unveil over the next 12 to 18 months, company officials said.

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