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Cat Fight: Astaro Attacks Symantec

The VAR Guy

July 23, 2008

3 Min Read
Cat Fight: Astaro Attacks Symantec

Meow. The VAR Guy loves a good cat fight, especially when he has front-row seats to the feud. The latest scratch-fest involves Astaro clawing Symantec and trying to run away with Syamantec partners.

Astaro has launched a “Symantec Switch” partner recruitment program that offers Symantec solutions providers a 20 percent product discount. The move comes one week after Symantec COO Enrique Salem’s statements to Wall Street became public and upset some partners.

The trouble at Symantec started when ChannelWeb uncovered statements from Salem that suggested Symantec was getting more aggressive with direct sales. The VAR Guy senses that only a few partners were really upset, but all the negative media coverage has put the spotlight on Symantec’s efforts to further automate sales.

Now, Astaro is hoping to cash in the controversy. Check out the strong language in Astaro’s press release, issued today:

In response to Symantec’s recent announcement regarding its direct sales and automated renewal policies, Astaro Corporation, a leading vendor of security appliances, today announced a new promotion aimed at Symantec resellers. Astaro, a 100 percent channel-focused company, is offering a 20 percent discount on Astaro products through its “Symantec Switch” promotion to help alleviate the strain these partners may feel in the wake of Symantec’s new policies.

But Astaro wasn’t done. The company goes on to use Salem’s words against him, writing:

During a June 12 conference, Symantec COO Enrique Salem announced the following: “Symantec over the last 25 years has been very focused on a two-tier distribution strategy, but as we’ve built out a very strong direct sales force where we’re heavily engaged with each customer, it doesn’t make sense to continue to leverage both a distributor and a partner to serve let’s say, the seven, eight, 900 largest customers in the world.” He continued to explain that those top customers will now have the option to go direct, cutting out the distributor. Salem explained that “…if the distribution channel is not adding value there’s no reason to keep them as part of the equation.”

Done? Not quite. Astaro takes a parting shot with this statement:

In addition to cutting out resellers, Symantec also announced a push to more automated renewals. Salem explained “…we’ve continued to drive a new set of automation — a new set of technology that will automate our delivery into the SMB market. We’ve proven in the consumer business that we can move more and more of our business online… We believe the same is true in the SMB segment, where we can automate or simplify the renewal process for many of our products…ultimately driving more efficiency but higher renewal rates.”

The VAR Guy enjoys a good feud as much as the next guy. But he wonders: Is Astaro wise to pick a fight with such a large rival? A few potential concerns:

  • Astaro says Symantec had a “recent announcement regarding its direct sales and automated renewal policies.” But the Symantec COO statements were originally made in private to Wall Street analysts. No public announcements were made, as far as The VAR Guy can tell.

  • Astaro says Symantec is “cutting out resellers.” True? Maybe, maybe not. But you’ve got to believe Symantec is taking a close look at Astaro’s press release and checking it for factual accuracy.

Sometimes, it’s wiser to stay below the competition’s radar and win partners on the merits of your business. But of course, confrontation is much more fun to blog about. The VAR Guy looks forward to round two, and hopes Astaro and Symantec continue to sharpen their claws. Meow.

Astaro offers more info about the Symantec Switch program here.

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