Symantec assures its channel the sky isn't falling

Symantec assures its channel the sky isn't falling

Security vendor insists it's not moving to one-tier distribution and isn't taking SMB renewals direct

Relax, we're still all about the channel. That's the message Symantec is seeking to send to its partners after remarks by its COO during a conference call had many questioning the security vendor's commitment to the indirect model.

The trouble began following a conference call with financial analysts held June 12 by Symantec's COO Enrique Salem. When the transcript of the call was made public misconceptions about the company's distribution and channel model quickly surfaced, including that the company may be moving to a one-tier distribution model and taking SMB license renewals direct.

With the remarks touching-off a firestorm, the vendor is now in damage-control mode. Julie Parrish, Symantec's vice-president of global channel office, is working hard to quell the rumors she says were created by media and partner misunderstanding of Salem's statements.

"(His) comments were misconstrued and got twisted around which is unfortunate," said Parrish. "The media outlets didn't talk to enough partners or come to me first to help put those comments back into context."

For the record, Parrish says Symantec is not moving from a two-tier to one-tier distribution model for its largest customers, as was previously reported. She says customers have always been able to buy solutions directly from the vendor and, of its top 700 to 900 large named accounts, roughly two-thirds of that revenue was already going direct to Symantec. The rest of its revenue, she notes, flows through the company's partner community.

"Symantec has not changed in any way the compensation, nor have we made any pricing discounts to influence customers to buy direct from us," Parrish said.

Back in April, Parrish says Symantec re-evaluated its distribution strategy, deciding that for certain types of business it would make more sense to utilize a one-tier model and also a separate open-source distribution model. When an enterprise purchases a Symantec product such as Backup Exec which doesn't require an enterprise site license, for example, she says it would make more sense to purchase through a one-tier.

For all other enterprise deals where customers want to purchase Symantec products in more of an a la carte-type fashion, along with additional services such as delivery and support, a two-tier distribution model would make more sense to fulfill the customers' needs, she adds.

It's been 90 days since Symantec has brought this open-source distribution strategy to market and Parrish says there's has not been any sort of uproar from the distributors.

Greg Myers, vice-president of marketing at Tech Data Canada, says Tech Data has been working closely with Symantec Canada to understand these recent announcements and future distribution changes.

"As far as we understand, there will be more partners in Canada that will be able to procure certain eligible SKUs directly from Symantec," he said. "It's always disappointing as a distributor when you lose access to business. If affects our ability to be profitable. Going through a two-tier channel always has superior economic results associated with it."

As for now, Myers says there have not been any significant changes or impacts he's aware of regarding Symantec modifying its Canadian distribution model with Tech Data. Currently, no SKUs have been pulled from the distributor by Symantec, he added.

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