Symantec Corp. is today expected to soon to reveal its new blueprint for the company’s product direction and channel strategy. The impending announcement is commanding the rapt attention of the channel.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based security and storage firm has been put through its paces over the last 12 months — a year defined by flat earnings, lagging product sales, channel leadership turnover and an executive shakeup that ousted Enrique Salem for current CEO Steve Bennett.
As the dust settled, Symantec showed signs of a revival, indicated by its recent “record” 4 percent year-over-year revenue increase during its third fiscal quarter that reached $1.79 billion. The firm said it was planning to split the roles of board chairman and CEO, electing Don Schulman to the position of non-executive chairman.
Since taking the company’s helm in July, Bennett has said he plans to re-establish and strengthen channel relationships and initiate an accelerated product shift toward relevant trending technologies that include cloud and virtualization. What that means and how that will pan out is anyone’s guess.
Details of the company’s plans will be revealed when executives detail a comprehensive realignment strategy, a product and business revamp dubbed Symantec 4.0, later today. And with few exceptions, the channel is largely in the dark. But one thing is certain: The strategic outline will have a profound effect on the culture and direction of the channel and channel relationships. The anticipation of a comprehensive road map is a welcome relief for partners flummoxed by the firm’s previous haphazard, confusing and seemingly directionless go-to-market approach and M&A strategy.
“What we’d all like to see is a strategy,” said Andrew Plato, president of Beaverton, Ore.-based Anitian Enterprise Security. “I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that. There hasn’t been a cohesive strategy in security for a long time.”
Channel expectations vary. Overwhelmingly, partners say they want Symantec to maintain a strong security focus, which means rounding out a security portfolio that has remained endpoint-driven.
“It’d be nice to see Symantec go back to go back to its roots,” Plato said. “One of the biggest challenges with them is that there are so many holes in their offerings. They’re strong at the endpoint, but have nothing at the network. They’ve completely abandoned the network market entirely.”
Specifically, partners would like Symantec to invest in managed services and build out their virtualization lineup.
David Sockol, president of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Emagined Security, says he plans to pay just as much attention to what won’t be said – which can be more revealing.
“Today is going to be a crucial day in terms of what they say and what they don’t say,” Sockol said. “It isn’t what they might say, its what they might ignore. It’s not telling us what they’re doing with their security lineup, and focusing on other areas during the release. That’s my biggest worry.”
Channel consensus is that Symantec will prune its underperforming offerings and turn its energies to more profitable endeavors. While it’s likely security products such as its flagship Endpoint Protection and data loss prevention (DLP) suites will be left alone, the survival of others, such as its SIEM and compliance offerings, remain in question.
“As a VAR and service provider for Symantec, we’re really interested to see what they’re going to keep on their line card and end of life-ing any products we support. There are clients who rely on those security products and several of them are very concerned,” Sockol said. “There are certain technologies that have been around for so long that they aren’t cutting edge any more. I expect those to disappear.”
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