Even though it’s getting hotter here in the earthly realm, apparently hell is attempting to freeze over.
So far in the last 18 months, Dell has held out an entire olive tree to the channel and is taking steps to create a meaningful program. Now Symantec, which has been a friend of VARs, resellers and distributors for what seems like a million years in tech time, is having its own mid-life crisis and embracing the misguided notion that direct sales will drive more revenue than maintaining lots of supposedly inefficient channel relationships.
ChannelWeb, the Everything Channel news site, breaks the story today that Symantec COO Enrique Salem has privately told Wall Street analysts that it will take about 900 of its largest customers direct AND take over the subscription renewal process for its small and midsize customers. You can read the entire story here.
The classic argument that has been given for this move to Wall Street is that taking these sales direct will streamline and cut costs for Symantec. (Sound familiar all you Hewlett-Packard VARs out there.)
On paper, at least, there’s no doubt there will be a short-term benefit to doing this. But what happens as the renewal stream tapers off? Or, as larger midsize companies that grow into enterprise account territory are told they can no longer work with the IT services consultants that have worked alongside them for years?
Let me think about this. Hmmmm. Say I’m a security VAR that has an opportunity to win an entirely new account with both equipment and managed security services. Do I recommend technologies and services from Symantec, knowing that I will get only a one-time margin cut, maybe, or do I team up with McAfee or Trend Micro or Sophos or one of the other emerging security companies and create a long-term customer relationship for both my company and my vendor?
I guess we’ll have to wait to see what kind of damage control Symantec’s two very capable channel executives, global vice president Julie Parrish and Americas vice president of channel sales Randy Cochran, can pull off.
It’s sad to see Symantec prepare to walk down this path. The good news for the channel is that there are plenty of security vendors to fill the void.