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Symantec soothes partners over its new plan

VARs were uneasy about how the company will merge programs from newly-acquired Veritas, but execs promised their businesses will not be disrupted

Symantec is taking small steps towards a new channel program as it digests its recently-finalized acquisition of backup and recovery specialist Veritas.At its first partner conference for VARs from both companies here last month, it was announced that a merged deal registration program will start in the next quarter, one which includes both Symantec’s front-end and Veritas’ back-end discounts on all products.
The total discount will be “in double digits,” said Randy Cochran, vice-president of channel sales for the Americas.
The Veritas discount was six per cent off list price, so to whet VARs’ appetites until the new program starts, the discount will immediately jump to 10 per cent (the same as on Symantec products), an announcement that was greeted with applause.
He also sketched Symantec’s thinking about a merged partner program, which is similar to Veritas’ four-level scheme (platinum, gold, silver and registered partner).
Details of how partners qualify for each level, such as revenue goals, required product certifications and margins haven’t been put in, but he promised to consult with partners.

Calmed jitters
Those small steps seemed to satisfy most of the 300 partners here, some of whom were jittery before the meeting. While the Veritas acquisition was announced in December and finalized in July, there was a lack of details over what a merged channel program will look like.
The day before the conference opened, members of Symantec’s North American partner council (which now includes VARs from both companies) aired their worries to vice-chairman and president Gary Bloom and other company officials.
Fear that certification standards would be lowered and allow a flood of resellers to push Symantec product “was top of mind,” said Michael Quartarone, national director of software sales at NexInnovations of Mississauga, Ont., who sits on the council.
Partners also were worried that the company would commoditize products, which would lower their profits.
At the opening session the next day Bloom assured them it won’t “pull the rug out from under any of our partners” as it merges the Symantec and Veritas channel programs.
Tom Kendra, vice-president of worldwide sales and services, also told resellers that “we need your help in building a partner program that effectively penetrates markets where there are tremendous amounts of opportunity.”
Symantec also promised a monthly publication in which the partner council can hold them to their promises.
Partners were pleased.
“(Channel) programs are not going away, they’re going to be improved,” said council member Peter Stavropoulos, CEO of FlexITy Solutions of Richmond Hill, Ont. “Those were the messages we needed to hear that we had not heard.”
Quartarone said he’ll recommend NexInnovations look at “the broader proposition of the new Symantec.”
Cochran said the creation of the new channel program is “a work in progress.”
Words like that were what the partners wanted to hear.
(For more from Gary Bloom, see CloseUp on page 46).