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Reports out of the Symantec PartnerEngage 2008 in Washington DC this week say that Symantec Chief Operating Officer Enrique Salem may not replace Global Channel Chief Julie Parrish who recently announced her resignation from that position. Instead, Salem acknowledged Symantec may instead go with some kind of more regionally-based structure to manage the company’s channel operations.

Salem, is the executive who made comments at a financial analysts meeting in June 2008 that were perceived to be very negative around Symantec’s channel commitment. Julie Parrish came back to defend Symantec’s intentions around the channel soon after Salem’s comments came to light.

So do Salem’s comments regarding replacing Parrish indicate the company is less committed to the channel now?  Not really, says Tiffani Bova, vice president, research, covering Indirect Channel Programs and Sales Strategies worldwide at Gartner.

Rather, Symantec’s commitment to the channel should be measured in terms of the company’s investment in channel-centric infrastructure and not necessarily how the company chooses to organize its channel executives.

"Having a ‘global’ channel leader is less important than having a globally consistent program to leverage economies of scale," Bova says. "If (if is the operative word here) it can be accomplished with a strong regional team who is all marching in the same direction – then a vendor could still be successful…

"Where the commitment will come to light is in channel investment, rules of engagement, dedicated resources and pricing/margins while they broaden their portfolio and move to more ‘SaaS’ offerings," Bova adds.