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Symantec wants partners to work together to build cloud business

The security vendor says the opportunity around cloud is big, but requires more partnerships and education

CHANDLER, ARIZ.  Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC) will soon be pushing its channel partners toward building solid cloud businesses, as part of its effort to have its partner ecosystem work more closely together.

The vendor has been working on building a services organization for about a year now, said Enrique Salem, president and CEO of Symantec, during the vendor’s Partner Engage event last week. “That transition was questioned initially.” Now, it’s clear that there is major opportunity for security partners to sell cloud solutions, according to Salem. “No one wants to be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,” he said, referring to cloud outages or breaches at major companies.

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Selling cloud solutions, though, will not be the same as the approach some partners are currently taking, the company warned. “It’s important to remember that the cloud doesn’t come in a box,” Salem said.

Future opportunity will be more about consultative services and partnering with others in the channel that already have certain specializations and expertise. “I think it starts with education,” said Randy Cochran, the company’s vice-president of channel sales for the Americas. Next year, Symantec will be launching CloudSmart, a free online learning program for channel partners.

Without the channel, cloud adoption isn’t going to grow, according to Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova, who gave the event’s keynote address. “Without you, cloud isn’t actually going to come to fruition,” she told partners. However, building a cloud brokerage—or a services business capitalizing on various cloud solutions—will represent the largest growth opportunity by 2015, she said.

Related story: Channel needs to provide cloud security reassurance

“That really just reiterated that we’re on the right path,” said Susan Taylor, COO of Ottawa-based solution provider KTI Kanatek Technologies Inc. Services are already a major part of its business, she said. The company is speaking with its current client base and assessing the demand for cloud solutions before it moves further toward becoming a “cloud broker.”

Symantec currently has several cloud security services and will be launching more next year, including Symantec O3, a cloud security platform designed to protect enterprise applications through access control, information security and compliance control. During its partner event, the company announced its Symantec Endpoint Protection.cloud and Backup Exec.cloud solutions would be available through distribution for the first time.

The security vendor worked first with Synnex and has now rolled out the services to Tech Data and Ingram Micro. “They have access to partners that we don’t touch on a daily basis,” Cochran said. “They’ve got that connectivity.”

The access distributors have to partners, along with their expertise in processing transactions will be beneficial to partners, he said. Since Symantec partners are already going through distribution for the on premise versions of these cloud products, this move was a logical step, according to Cochran.