Symantec Launches One-Two Punch In Managed Services

After a year of anticipation, Symantec finally launched its managed service/software-as-a-service platform today. The Symantec Protection Network (SPN) initially supports storage services, with security services expected to arrive later this year or sometime in 2009.

Right out of the gate, SPN offers close integration with Symantec Backup Exec. That's an important point: Hooks between SPN and Backup Exec could provide VARs and MSPs with a powerful one-two punch in the managed services market. Here's why.

Backup Exec ranks among the most popular on-site backup and restore platforms in the industry. VARs that sell, service and support Backup Exec servers could be inclined to up-sell their customers to SPN. The move would allow Symantec's channel partners to instantly leap from one-time software licenses to recurring monthly revenue through SPN.

On the flip-side, managed service providers that offer SPN could build closer relationships with their customers by promoting on-site Backup Exec deployments.

Of course, SPN and Backup Exec aren't the only game in town. Startups like Vembu Technologies have lined up more than 550 managed service providers that specialize in storage as a service. (Update: Vembu says it recently surpassed 600 partners.) EMC has launched a storage as a service platform that may ultimately tie to managed ERP systems. And multiple MSP platform providers are exploring ways to integrate their services with Amazon.com's Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

Symantec's Pitch

Still, Symantec offers partners several key advantages. Although the company's partner program stumbled a bit in 2007, Symantec continues to be one of the most channel-focused software developers in the world. And Symantec's brand is well-known among small business owners and entrepreneurs. Those audiences may be inclined to trust VARs and MSPs that recommend using SPN and Backup Exec in tandem or as individual components.

Also, Symantec will continue to extend SPN with new services. Although no official announcements have been made, it's widely believed that SPN will gradually gain new capabilities in such areas as email archiving, compliance, and endpoint security, just to name a few possibilities.

For MSPs, the potential advantages of SPN are clear: Instead of offering a hodgepodge of third-party services, SPN could eventually become a single platform for complete information protection.

Admittedly, SPN isn't ready to fulfill that mandate today. It took Symantec longer than initially expected to get SPN online and ready for action. MSPmentor originally expected the service to debut in the fall of 2007. MSPs that want to give Symantec Protection Network a look can visit www.spn.com.

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