Symantec moves to reassure partners

Symantec moves to reassure partners

Direct sales into large enterprise will not impact local channel

Symantec has reassured local partners that it has no intentions to take control of major channel accounts or renew SMB licenses directly.

The move follows comments made by the software company's COO, Enrique Salem, during a conference with Wall Street analysts. Salem spoke of plans to take its largest 700-900 customers direct as well as SMB subscription licence renewals in an attempt to drive greater efficiency and reduce costs.

Symantec vice-president of global channel office, Julie Parrish, said those large accounts were major enterprise customers, adding that most had already been doing some direct purchasing. Symantec had given those particular customers a choice to buy direct or from a partner, she said.

"We've given them a choice, but outside of that customer list everything must go through partners," she said. "Most of those customers were spending a majority of their dollars directly already, so it's not actually taking anything away."

Parrish said there were a handful of accounts in the Pacific region that had been purchasing directly, but highlighted that partners are fully aware of that list of customers.

"Those accounts are published and communicated to the partner community in the Pacific region and there's been no change to the state of strategy for the Pacific region in any way," she said.

Parrish was also adamant that Symantec was not taking SMB licence renewals direct. However, in the last 6-8 months, she said Symantec had put more automation in place whereby it sends a 90-day notification to let users know it's time to renew. Parrish said the email provides contact details for the relevant partner.

"We're absolutely not taking business direct," she said. "We also give this information to our distributor partners as well, so they can assist in ensuring that the partner knows who is coming to you for renewal."

"We want that business to go through our partners and we expect them to encourage renewals with their accounts."

Dimension Data datacentre practice manager, Ronnie Altit, said it would normally be advised well in advance if Symantec was planning to change strategy in Australia. Dimension Data is a platinum partner of the security vendor.

"Symantec has always had a certain number of accounts they deal with directly, but although they do deal direct with those accounts, they're very much open to doing that business together with the channel," he said. "We've enjoyed a number of transactions with some of their 'direct' accounts. I've had conversations at length with Symantec [about Salem's comments] and there's no impact on us."

Express Data software division manager, Clint Musgrave, also expected to see no change in how Symantec operates its local channel. Express Data and Ingram Micro both run licensing renewals programs on behalf of the vendor.

"I understand that's happening in the US, but we run on a different process in APJ where they send out 90-day renewal notices to customers encouraging them to renew through their partner," Musgrave said.

Nexus principal, Sean Murphy, said he noticed that the vendor had stepped up its access to sales and engineering resources, assistance with training and had been more proactive in alerting them to sales and renewal opportunities.

"They've been proactively sending us spreadsheets of renewals and that's had a positive effect," he said.

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