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Veritas Software Corp.’s pending merger with Symantec Corp. hasn’t kept the company from refining its channel program.

The $13.5 billion merger, announced in December, combines Symantec’s anti-virus wares with Veritas’ strength in backup and presence in clustering and storage management.

Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Channel Insider editor, believes the merged companies will take on Computer Associates International Inc. in the enterprise market.

Against this backdrop, Veritas late last month rolled out new components for its partner initiative.

The Opportunity Registration Program lets the company’s partners register pending software and support sales. Participating partners can gain pricing advantages by registering deals.

Julie Parrish, vice president of Field and Channel Marketing for Veritas’ operations in the Americas, said the registration program is intended to reward partners who “invest early on in the selling process.” She said Veritas is looking for partners to “be where we can’t be” and get into deals earlier.

Veritas’ Opportunity Registration Program in North America is open to Veritas Enterprise Authorized Elite and Premier Partners. The company’s Windows Authorized Partners are included as well.

A number of product vendors have instituted deal registration programs to protect partners’ investment in the sales process. CA ranks among those pursuing this direction.

The general idea behind such programs is to provide registering partners with enough of a discount to ward off eleventh-hour bids from competitors, noted Jeff Bawol, senior vice president and general manager of Avnet Inc. Enterprise Software and Storage Business Unit.

Bawol said registration programs can help spell the difference between a reseller who wants to sell a supplier’s product and one merely willing to carry a supplier’s product and take orders.

In another move, Veritas will now allow partners to offer support and maintenance renewals. The renewals program targets Enterprise Authorized Elite and Premier Partners.

Finally, Veritas is broadening the range of products its small and medium business partners may sell. Previously, the company’s Windows Authorized Partners were mostly limited to Veritas’ Backup Exec. Now Windows Authorized Partners may also sell such enterprise-oriented products as NetBackup and Volume Replicator for Windows.

“When we looked at the customer set that some of these key partners sell into, [we saw that] they really are selling into corporate American and, in many cases, selling into accounts they have watched grow over time beyond a small and mid-sized company,” Parrish said. “It was very limiting for them to offer nothing but Backup Exec.”

The ability to sell a broader product portfolio isn’t the only benefit. The enterprise products, Parrish said, potentially offer better margins than lower-end products. Another plus: the opportunity to provide consulting and other services alongside a more sophisticated offering.

As for the merger, Parrish said Veritas and Symantec representatives already are thinking about the combination of their respective partner programs. Information systems that support channel activities are among the considerations. Veritas, for example, has been exploring a partner relationship management system, but much of that effort is on hold as the company evaluates what Symantec has done in that regard.

Parrish advises partners to keep watching.

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