Symantec CEO Change: Managed Security, MDM Reality Check

Symantec CEO Change: Managed Security, MDM Reality Check

Symantec's surprise CEO change arrives during a security and storage software market inflection point. Every major security software company (Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Panda Security, Symantec, Trend Micro, Sophos, etc.) is pursuing mobile device management (MDM), cloud services and/or closer engagements with managed services providers (MSPs). So how is Symantec performing within that MSP land grab?

Symantec has a longstanding relationship with Level Platforms, but really woke up to the MSP opportunity in 2011. The company started dropping hints about a Kaseya partnership in July 2011. Then, Symantec in November 2011 surfaced at IT Nation -- a major conference hosted by ConnectWise. More recently, Symantec has completed new or updated integrations with Kaseya, LabTech Software and Level Platforms. Symantec also has a relationship with Doyenz, a cloud-based disaster recovery specialist that works with MSPs.

Perhaps the most important move: When Symantec announced John Eldh as channel chief in March 2012, the news included a key focus on MSPs.

Major Rivalries

Those are all signs of progress. But Symantec has its hands full in the MSP market, where many rivals gained first-mover advantage. Trend Micro, for instance, has been aggressively promoting service provider licensing to MSP peer groups for several years, earning some loyalty along the way. Also, some Kaseya partners are now moving to Kaspersky Lab's endpoint security, because of a close relationship between Kaseya and Kaspersky.

Symantec also faces challenges in the mobile device management (MDM) market. There, many of the major RMM (remote monitoring and management) software providers already offer (or will soon offer) support for Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Google Android devices. Some companies are also extending to BlackBerry and Windows Phone 8 support. (Microsoft expects to ship Windows Phone 8 this fall.)

Symantec Buys MDM, MAM Companies

Symantec isn't standing still. The company this year acquired MDM and mobile applications management (MAM) companies, Odyssey Software and Nukona. The big question for MSPs: How will all of Symantec's management dashboards (storage, security, on-premises, cloud, mobile) potentially  converge with MSP dashboards?

It could take time for Symantec to funnel all of those software code bases into a single, seamless experience for MSPs and their customers. Alas, Symantec does not have the luxury of time in the MSP market. Rivals are still making moves -- including an updated partner program from McAfee (more on that later today).

Now, it's up to new CEO Steve Bennett and Channel Chief John Eldh to show MSPs how all of the Symantec pieces fit together.
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