Security vendor, Symantec, has a unleashed a raft of enhancements to its Partner Program further aiding its focus on specialisation.
Some of the latest changes involve the addition of a Master Specialisation category and three extra specialisations including Data Protection, High Availability and Storage Management.
Master Specialisations recognises and promotes partners with advanced consulting, technical and service capabilities in five specialised areas. This includes Enterprise Security, Data Loss Prevention, IT Compliance, Data Protection, and Archiving and eDiscovery.
The enhanced program is based on a specialist model rather than revenue and it aims to reward a partner's knowledge and expertise in certain areas or market focus.
In Asia Pacific and Japan, partners will have until April 2011 to transition to the new program. Specialised partners will be rewarded with increased rebates, access to enablement resources, and recognition by the vendor and clients.
Symantec vice-president for SMB and channel Asia Pacific and Japan, David Dzienciol, said to get partners to transition across before the cut off time, it had been conducting a lot of training and leveraged different events to help drive some of the accreditation and testing required to gain accreditation.
"We're not releasing a brand new program that will have no connection to the old one, a lot of the aspects will continue to stay the same, but in some respects we're rationalising parts of the program," Dzienciol said. "We're raising the bar in terms of what it takes to become a Symantec partner when it comes to services and accreditation.
"The beauty of specialisation is that it allows partners to look at their own business, what lines they want to participate in, really drive their investment and then for us to provide that return directly tied to those technologies that they want to invest in and build businesses around. It will help partners differentiate their business for a better competitive advantage in the marketplace."
Specialisations are required to achieve Silver, Gold, and Platinum status in the program. To become a Silver partner will need to have at least one specialisation, Gold requires three and to obtain Platinum status, four specialisations are required.
Partners can then decide if they would like to step into the Master Specialisation arena, which requires additional testing, specialisation, technical validation and a business plan.
Dzienciol said partners can move through the different levels of the program on quarterly basis.
"We're giving them the flexibility and we'll continue to support them through the journey. Downgrades will only happen on an annual basis," he said."It's not about quantity."
“It really lets us link what it is that partners do with their business practices with what’s available when you look at the set of specialisations.”
Symantec enterprise partner director, Jeff Arndt, said a number of partners were keen on taking up the Master Specialisation status.
“We’re already well on the path with some of our partners so they can become Master Specialised,” Arndt said. “It’s a partner led model.”
Next year, Symantec will also launch an encryption specialisation, which is still in development at this stage. This specialisation derives from Symantec’s acquisition of PGP earlier this year. “It’s a great vehicle for us to be able to come out with new technology and bring it straight it into the partner ecosystem,” he said. “We’ll continue to make investments that will aligned to this vision and strategy.”
The security vendor has also launched a new incentive called Symplus. It will offer partners cash rewards for their efforts in selling, promoting solutions, obtaining technical accreditation's, and registering and closing customer opportunities. Rewards will be redeemed via a Symplus Visa Prepaid Debit Card.
"It's a great way to fast track some of the activities that partners will do to get specialised," Dzienciol said. "This is one program that is designed to also drive individuals within the partner organisation."
Symantec IQ will also be supplied for partners and it provides access to product and solution content, forums and experts.
Dimension Data general manager of datacentre solutions, Peter Prowse, said the enhancements to the program provides them with a greater potential return on investment that it makes in terms of staff training, and research and development programs.
"We are fully supportive of Symantec's decision to distinguish its partners based on the investment those partners have made in acquiring, developing and maintaining specialised capabilities in Symantec's key technology and solution areas,” Prowse said.
An outline of the new specialisations:
- Data Protection Specialisation recognises partners who have proven their ability to deliver effective solutions to help protect their customers' business information and systems, and capture business opportunities from the transformation of a large, established market.
- High Availability Specialisation recognises partners who have demonstrated their ability to help protect their customers' applications and data against unplanned downtime, and take advantage of business opportunities created by server virtualisation.
- Storage Management Specialisation recognises partners who have proven their ability to help their customers manage data growth and improve storage utilisation, and take advantage of business opportunities created by explosive data growth.