Salem to Focus on Enhancing Symantec's Relevancy

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Posted 2009-03-10 Email Print this article Print


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In less than a month, Enrique Salem will take the helm of the world's fourth largest software company. No longer just a security company, the new chief executive tells Channel Insider that he plans to increase the company's marketplace relevancy with the support of solution provider partners.


While Thompson was manically focused on growing Symantec’s revenue and size, Salem is taking a different approach by choosing to focus on the quality of the business and enhancing Symantec’s relevancy in the marketplace. His belief is relevancy will triumph revenue performance, and will ultimately make the difference between a successful company and a failed business.

"[Thompson] did a fabulous job of building scale, and I’m looking forward to using that scale to be the leader. I’m not excited about being the CEO of the fourth largest software company. I’m more worried about relevancy position compared to other companies. When we have leadership in certain segments, we will maintain our relevancy," he says.

That’s not to say Salem isn’t concerned about revenue growth. He is. With relevancy comes growth and new opportunities. Achieving that growth, he says, requires the support and success of Symantec’s 59,000 partners around the world. That dependency and shared success is the reason Salem says Symantec will remain committed to its channel partners—OEMs, value-added distributors, resellers and retailers—to engage with customers and drive Symantec product sales.

"The question that should be asked is, 'Can our partners make more money with us?" he says. "We should help our partners get into more accounts. With our integrated products, our partners can get into more accounts and recognize more opportunities."

Symantec is in the process of integrating two of its most recent acquisitions—Altiris (systems and configuration management) and Vontu (data loss prevention) into its portfolio and channel programs. And it is still grappling with fully integrating the storage management technologies acquired with Veritas five years ago. The company doesn’t have the most stellar reputation for assimilating the companies it acquires, and there are numerous examples of gaffes that have negatively impacted Symantec’s sales.

But integration of both the channel programs and underlying products and technologies is what gives meaning to the information management framework created by Symantec over the last decade. Salem recognizes the integration shortcomings and says improving integration and partner training will be a priority going forward.

"If you don’t do a good job of integrating the technology in a way that’s easy to understand by the customer and implement by the partner, you’re doomed for failure," Salem says.

Integration is also critical in the rapidly growing and evolving software-as-a-service and managed services marketplace. Symantec acquired managed security service provider Riptech in 2002, providing it with the foundation for becoming one of the largest providers of security services. It’s developed a remote backup service that currently manages more than 30 petabytes of data and is adding more than 5 petabytes per quarter.

Symantec has come under fire for the way it handles renewals for its subscription-based services. While solution providers are often compensated for the initial sale or referral of a service, some say Symantec unfairly cuts partners out of the renewal revenue business.

Salem acknowledges that the services renewal business is a tricky issue. While stating the partner should get a commission for making the sale and have access to the back-end revenue, he believes partners can and should make more money on the integration services required for migrating customers to a services offering and through the sale of additional service offerings.

"We need to keep the partners selling more and more things, and have the partners selling more services," he says. "The only way we’re going to grow is if the partner brings us to the customer."
Last summer, Salem was criticized for telling market analysts that Symantec would take more of its top tier accounts direct and give large customers the option to bypass solution provider and distribution channels. While the reports were later refuted, the coverage raised doubts in Symantec’s commitment to channel partners, especially after Salem takes the helm.

"The amount of business we do through the channel is increasing, not decreasing," he says. "The partners that are going to be successful with Symantec will be the ones that invest into growing their Symantec business."

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.


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