Channel partner programs, Networking

Symantec CEO Priority: Blue Coat Partner Cross-Training

Symantec's sales pipeline is building with next-generation, cloud-centric security deals -- and the engagements are "mainly led by our channel partners," according to CEO Greg Clark. Partner-centric statements like that surfaced throughout Symantec's earnings call with Wall Street analysts this week.

Generally speaking, it sounds like Symantec's buyout of Blue Coat -- announced in 2016 -- is paying some immediate dividends. And the LifeLock acquisition is expected to close by February 9, Clark added. The resulting company will rank among the few companies that "made the appropriate technology investments to lead in the cloud generation of security," Clark asserted.

For its 3Q 2017, revenues were $1.041 billion, up 15 percent from $909 million in 3Q 2016. Still, Symantec's overall business transformation journey -- featuring the Blue Coat and LifeLock acquisitions -- won't be easy. Symantec's missteps with channel partners and MSPs over the past decade are well-documented. But new management -- led by Clark -- focused purely on security could help right the ship.

Clark points to multiple signs of progress:

  • The Symantec Endpoint Protection 14 release, which is generating positive buzz in the channel.
  • Symantec's artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities across the consumer and commercial business landscape, which will help to strengthen the company's products while safeguarding customers.
  • New cross-sell and up-sell opportunities involving Symantec and Blue Coat.

The Symantec-Blue Coat Cross Training Push

Looking ahead to Symantec's fiscal 2018 -- which starts in mid-2017, Clark sees new sales synergies emerging.

"So what happens in 2018 is we are going into a situation where we have a much expanded sales force," he said. "Right now we are incenting the Symantec people and the Blue Coat people to work together. In 2018, we have a much wider approach. We've been doing a lot of training to bring the Blue Coat teams up to speed on the Symantec products, and the Symantec products up to speed on the Blue Coat systems. We are optimistic that after that is deployed, that we will see a massive capacity gain in the field, and we have also been doing a lot of work on our channel."

Watch for more details to emerge at Symantec's Analyst Day (we're trying to track down the exact date). During that event, "we will give you some insights into the simplification of what we're doing in the channels, which we expect to also drive some substantial efficiency gains both for our channel and for us, which should help us drive better results in 2018," he asserted.

Symantec: Competition Looms

Still, Symantec's rivals aren't resting on their laurels. At the high end of the market, players like Cisco Systems and Palo Alto Networks have been fortifying their channel partner programs. In the midmarket, Kaspersky Lab just launched its 2017 partner program and Sophos continues to innovate with tools like anti-phishing training.

Meanwhile, in the MSP sector players like Cisco Umbrella, Sophos and Webroot each have momentum.

Who's got the real momentum? We'll take a closer look at RSA Conference 2017 in mid-February.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.