After jet-setting around the world for several years (working for IT companies in the Americas, Middle East and Europe), David Blackman returned to Australia and landed at Symantec. With prior experience at Novell (where he helped launch NetWare 5) and a stint at Symantec competitor PentaSafe Security Technology, Blackman said he was up for the challenge of growing and maintaining relationships with the Symnatec A/NZ channel. Now, after achieving global growth targets of 30 per cent year-on-year, he wants to keep the momentum going locally in the information security realm.
Given your extensive IT background, what skills do you bring to the table?
DB: I’m a global guy. [In the States], I’ve worked for companies in California, Utah, and Texas and I’ve got a really good reputation for being open and clear about what you expect from your people, and what you expect from the partners. When I was at Novell, I was managing people across four countries and learned how to manage people remotely.
What are customers looking for and how can partners help?
DB: Customers are looking for information integrity — secure data — which I will help provide. The channel is an evolving beast ... It is a continually evolving space and I want to focus on the partners who are going to work closely with us and boost revenue ... The partners that were great today or yesterday may not be the right partners for tomorrow. There are emerging partners out there, so my role is to keep an eye on what’s going on.
How is the partner program segmented?
DB: The first category is the global strategic solution partners. They are the large integrators (including HP, IBM, Unisys). Then there are the enterprise security solution partners (these are our key partners who are offering high-end security solutions including intrusion detection). Finally, there are the enterprise sales and software partners that sell our traditional solution sets.
With the slew of acquisitions (including NetIQ and BrightMail) added to the Symantec mix, what product lines can partners now offer?
DB: In the information security market, we have the broadest base of security solutions in the industry. We offer antivirus (Ghost and PC Anywhere), and enterprise administration — traditionally that’s been where we built our base. But over the past few years, we’ve included managed security service, intrusion protection, enterprise security management, disaster recovery and backup, patch management and asset management. And while we’re in the business of prevention, there is no such thing as 100 per cent security. When security incidents inevitably happen, we can help bring businesses back up.
What is the overall company strategy?
DB: We have a concept called integrated security. While customers or partners can sell or purchase a number of different solutions from different software vendors, we provide them everything they need to have an integrated solution with a central management console that lowers the total cost of ownership, lowers training costs and increases productivity. Because we do the antivirus, intrusion protection, enterprise security management and back-up, we can provide it all from one vendor (one product, one maintenance contract), rather than have customers deal with multiple vendors. That is a big driver for us.
How did this strategy evolve?
DB: When I joined Symantec we were just starting to change the perception that we were an antivirus company. In the past 12-18 months, we’ve really made the change to being seen as a security partner rather than an antivirus partner. It’s been a lot of hard work on our part. It’s due to the quality of the solution and the people we hire.
What shifts have you seen in the market during the past 12 months?
DB: There are definite trends on the networking side. We look at it as a convergence of security systems and storage management. As those markets converge, there’s a common ground where customers can get solutions from one supplier. And that’s taking us into some interesting places where we can partner or compete with players such as Cisco and Computer Associates.
What area of business should resellers consider dabbling in?
DB: There’s a really hot opportunity in the disaster recovery backup space. We have a product called V2I protector — a backup and restore solution — that we’re now featuring in road shows and seminars across Australia and New Zealand every week. We’re working with partners and developing a huge market. We see it as a complementary solution to some of the backup products today but, ultimately, it will replace them.
If a career in IT was off the books, what would be your second job choice.
DB: I would like to be a writer, a science fiction writer. I have a dream — although I don’t know when — of going to Oxford, studying literature and being an author and retiring on my Tuscan villa.