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Two years in the making, Symantec last week at the Symantec PartnerEngage
conference announced the formal launch of its Symantec Protection Network—the
company’s software-as-a-service entry designed to be sold through channel
partners.

"Our focus is on the midmarket and SMB, and as a result of that we made a
strategic early decision to focus this on the channel," says Chris Schin,
senior director of product management. "We wanted to make sure what we
were building would be something that would align to our channel partners’ emerging
SAAS businesses."

The Symantec Protection Network channel program falls under the umbrella of
Symantec’s overall channel partner program, but offers two tiers, Premiere and
Select. The Premiere level will be granted significant benefits in terms of
higher commissions (23 percent), integrated lead management, more co-branded
marketing materials and additional presales support.

Schin says the company anticipates recruiting just 20 to 40 partners at this
level. In return, Symantec is asking these partners make a serious commitment
to the program, with two dedicated salespeople, trained by Symantec in a
half-day on-site free training program followed by some Webinars.

"We will be looking at the largest national resellers for this
level," Schin says.

The Select-level partners will enjoy 15 percent commissions and will still get
"a lot of support, but it will be less of a hands-on commitment,"
Schin says.

Both types of partners will be able to take advantage of what Symantec is
calling the Agency program. Through this program, Symantec will bill the end customer
directly and, for every month’s bill, the partner will get its commission.

Another option available to certain partners is to use Symantec’s provisioning Web
page that goes directly into the Symantec back end.  With this program,
the services can proceed with no financial payment. At the end of the quarter,
the partner will get a report from Symantec that provides details on the total
amount of provisioned units of backups and the bill of what the partner owes
Symantec.

This gives the partner the opportunity to bill their customers themselves and
perhaps aggregate that bill with other services the partner provides to the end
customers.

"If we tried to do this with everyone, it would become a large administrative
overhead," says Schin.

Symantec had signed up three partners for the new program at launch last week
and anticipates many hundreds will immediately qualify for Select partner
status.

"Many service providers deliver their SAAS offering directly to the end
customer and not through resellers," Schin says. "The channel is our
biggest asset in delivering to small and midsize customers. We had to come up
with a model that would deliver SAAS and allow the channel partner to play a
key role."