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Security and storage channel providers converged in Orlando,
Fla., this week to meet up with
representatives at Symantec for the company’s annual Partner Engage conference.
The intensive day-and-a-half event is highlighted by several sneak peeks into
Symantec’s channel plans for 2010, including a new demo platform and a newly
adjusted renewal incentive plan tweaked to favor incumbent channel partners.

“You’re going to hear several themes resonating at the show,” says Randy
Cochran, vice president of channel sales in America
for Symantec. “They’ll center around the four R’s: revenue, readiness,
reputation and relevance. We’ll really be focused on how we can be mutually
successful together and how to do that on a higher level and to be more
effective.”

He also says Symantec will be hammering home the data-centric mentality that
the company believes should inform everything that its channel partners do.

“The other resident theme is going to be centered around data and data being
the No. 1 asset in any organization,” Cochran says. “You know, how do you
preserve, protect, monitor, manage secure the data? Whether it’s at rest or
whether it’s in motion, those are all critical components, and we’ll be looking
to drive that message home.”

Among the highlights of the program, Symantec will be unveiling four major
announcements today: a new demo platform called SymDemo, an improved renewals
schema, a new online partner community and a new certification program for
enterprise security specialists.

SymDemo

Of the four announcements, SymDemo excites Cochran the most. The new demo
platform offers partners a way to easily demonstrate product capabilities
without worrying about considerations such as hardware, software licensing,
logistics and the like.

“In the past, if you were to try to demonstrate Net Backups, for example, the
amount of hardware you would need with the cabling and the switching, plus a
VMware license, an Oracle license—we just saw that to be totally inefficient
and something that we couldn’t really scale,” he says. “What’s really cool
about SymDemo is the only thing you need is a laptop and an Internet
connection. There’s no cost to you, there’s no expense, there’s no check you
have to write.”

Symantec will pilot the demo platform through the end of the year and roll with
a launch sometime in January, Cochran says.

Enterprise Authorized
Renewals Program

Also on the docket today is the unveiling of a new renewals plan meant to
reward incumbent Symantec partners through better margins.

“The incumbent has a distinct advantage and has protection,” Cochran says,
explaining that Symantec is working to avoid share shift. “I can’t prevent
somebody from going in and bidding on something, but if they don’t have the
same price point, the likelihood of that happening is low unless there’s a lot
more things on the table that they’re also bidding on.”

He says that this new program is being deployed in direct response to feedback
gathered from Symantec’s VAR Council and is
a testament to the company’s commitment to listening to its resellers.

New Partner Community

After nurturing a growing user community through its Symantec Connect portal
for just under a year now, the company decided to expand its networking reach
to the partner community. The new partner component to Symantec Connect will
give Symantec partners a place on the Web to collaborate and gather ideas from
one another, as well as from Symantec directly.

“What we decided to do was utilize that technology and create a subset or sub
area for our partners to come in and do the same thing, but do it
partner-to-Symantec and partner-to-partner,” Cochran says.

Though soft-launched a couple of weeks ago, the community will see its official
debut today at the show.

Enterprise Security
Specialist

The final announcement at the show is for a new certification meant for
partners with expertise in dealing with the special needs of enterprise
security customers.

Similar to the SMB Security Specialist Symantec already has in place, this
new designation will be dedicated to those who have demonstrated proficiency in
a number of areas Symantec has deemed critical for those dealing with companies
with 500 or more employees.

“Rather than just being AV-certified or a certification for a specific, this is
really becoming more of a security specialist,” Cochran says. “The benefits for
making that investment will come back to those partners in a multitude of ways,
so they’ll have a distinct advantage or differentiation for making that
investment.”

The details of this program will be released later in the month, but today
the company will give some hints about the advantages, which will include
increased margins, deal registration and special promotions for certified
partners.