Ready for the ride

What are the new SMB solutions from Symantec?

From the SMB customer point of view we have the availability and the security side of the business. On the security side, we have repackaged our end-point protection product, which is our flagship security product. We’ve combined a lot of technologies to have a very focussed segmented approach rather than one solution that is scalable to all. For small business we have the Symantec Protection Suite which covers not only antivirus, but spyware, device control, and much more. On the availability side we have the Backup Exec and Backup Exec System Recovery. We’ve just launched BESR 2010. 

Recently we’ve had a lot of changes to the availability side of our portfolio; for instance we’ve changed our naming convention and features. Now we’ll be recognising the product version by the year rather than some version number. It helps customers identify their products and when they need an update.
How has Symantec’s focus on SMBs evolved?
Internally, at Symantec, we’ve realigned ourselves to have more focus on SMB as a segment. This is a global and EMEA-wide initiative and we are engaging our customers to ensure we have the right solutions for them. Our offerings for SMBs are not stripped-down versions of enterprise security, but are readily usable and deployable in SMB environments. And all our products are scalable to an enterprise level. So our customers always have the option to cross-grade and upgrade.
SMBs do not always have the technical knowhow of enterprises. How are you supporting them?
There are three levels of support we offer our customers. One is basic support which is available during working hours. Then we’ve been heavily promoting the Essential Support offering; this is 24/7 support that customers get along with their licence.
Another thing we are promoting is the Technical Assistance Partner Programme. That’s another route to market for us, where we make sure we have people in the country who can support SMB customers on a daily basis.
We also have a team at our education centre at Symantec to provide end customers and partners hands-on knowledge. This includes a combination of online material and workshops to provide certifications or courses which give you a deep dive into the technology. We offer sales and technical knowledge, and the schedule is available in advance, so participants can choose dates that suit them.
How has the concept of security changed in recent times?
Especially in the SMB segment, security has largely been considered as antivirus. And, till recently, people looked at endpoints as maybe a computer or a server. But we’ve talked about blended threats and endpoint security years ago; so it’s much more than having antivirus in place. That’s been our message to the market.
Security threats today are not just about disrupting business activities – they are crime oriented. They are very sophisticated and targeted towards a particular objective. Our recent reports show some interesting findings: More malware is being created than beneficial software. This changes the whole dynamics of security, especially for SMBs because their resources are limited. They need to have a solution that’s workable for them and easily implementable.
This year hasn’t really gone as planned. Has that impacted your channel strategy?
We have a continuous feedback system from our channel in place. Especially at a time like this, we need to give our channel two important things: a way to better manage their cash flow, and a way for their businesses to be more predictable and profitable. So we announced the Opportunity Registration Programme, which gives a tangible benefit. It works on every opportunity – if they succeed, they get a rebate within 30 days, which helps their cash flows.
The second major announcement is our SMB Specialisation Programme. This is our focus on SMBs, with more emphasis on the channel. We believe it is through our partners that we can address businesses more effectively. It’s all about enablement and preparing our partners on the actual requirements of customers.
What are your 2010 plans for channel engagement?
We want to give our channel a better experience. One of the things we’ve introduced is a new programme called Simplicity. This has free registration and we provide ready tools for our partners to have a better understanding of how business is structured.
We take great pride in saying that we backup 60% of the world’s data. Having said that, we can’t get complacent about it. There are still a large number of businesses that don’t understand how or why to backup. We did a survey on disaster preparedness and the results were astonishing. There is a huge gap in the readiness perception of SMB customers and the reality. That gap is an opportunity for us. We have a huge awareness and enablement programme for our backup solutions here, and we run customer-oriented as well as partner communication. We recently ran our Backup Exec challenge and this has been hugely accepted by the channel. As a result of that we have seen a lot more enablement and customers adopting our solutions.
With these sort of activities, we’ve actually prepared the market. The resellers are quite aware of our offerings and how they scale. There are quite a few new features that will be of huge interest to SMBs. For instance our Enterprise Vault has predominantly been sitting at the high-end datacentre market, but a component of that will be in Backup Exec. So two technologies are integrated.
And with the hype and activities we’ve created, there will be a huge opportunity for SMB resellers when 2010 is available. We will have an EMEA-wide road show to promote the product. Our experts and Backup Exec management team from the US and Europe will also be here to talk about it.
How have new players changed the landscape for you? Is it really making a difference?
Yes and no. Customers are really looking for price as never before and the features and functions of a product take a backseat to an extent. The lower end of the SMB segment, which is only looking for antivirus might be affected, but we are educating the market about our entire portfolio and the need for heightened security.
From a total product perspective, we are far ahead with our technology and routes to market, but when it comes to price and the antivirus-only aspect, we might have some issues. That’s why we are trying to help our partners with our bottom line enhancements.
A lot of our customers look for a single vendor for their information management needs. For example, the Protection Suite is not just a security product; we are talking security and availability on a single platform, and that’s what customers really need today. 2010 will be a big year for us with regards to our focus and offerings to the market. All we’ve got to say is – just be ready for the ride.

The year 2010 will be big for Symantec with regards to its focus and offerings. We speak with Prajit Arakkal, Senior Manager for Distribution and SMB Sales ? Emerging Markets, and Saurabh Arora, Manager ? Small and Medium Business, Symantec Middle East and North Africa

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