Can Symantec Bolster Its SaaS Strategy?

During the opening session at Symantec Partner Engage in Washington, D.C., Chief Operating Officer Enrique Salem described several opportunities awaiting partners in the IT market.

Salem mentioned key trends around virtualization, data loss prevention, compliance and archiving. All of them were good, valid partner engagement opportunities. But Salem only touched briefly on SaaS (software as a service) and he didn't mention managed services at all. Not once.

Here's why I'm concerned.

When Symantec acquired Veritas in 2005, the company instantly expanded beyond security leadership to storage leadership.

Think about that for a minute: Storage and security are two of the most ideal technologies for managed service providers. They are also two of the first technologies to transition to a SaaS or cloud model.

Multiple Priorities

Symantec could have been a dominant force leading the SaaS revolution. But with legacy products comes inertia and a commitment to on-premise deployments.

I'm not suggesting that on-premise solutions are bad. It remains the dominant  approach across much of the software industry. Symantec and its partners certainly shouldn't abandon those opportunities.

However, I'm surprised Symantec Protection Network (SPN), the company's emerging SaaS platform, doesn't occupy a larger spotlight at Symantec, and within the company's partner program.

According to our MSPmentor 100 survey, the vast majority of MSPs offer numerous forms of managed security (eDiscovery, patch management, firewall monitoring, etc.). And fast-moving MSPs like Perimeter eSecurity are launching expanded managed security services for specific vertical markets.

Keeping It All In Perspective

Of course, it's still early in the SaaS game. Symantec recently announced integration between SPN and on-site Backup Exec deployments. And last week, Symantec acquired MessageLabs, a move that could bolster the company's security efforts.

And in Symantec's defense: The Symantec Partner Engage event just started. We may hear far more about SPN and SaaS throughout today's event.

UPDATE: A few hours after this post, Symantec pulled back the curtain on a Symantec Protection Network partner program. Here are the details.

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