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5/11/2006
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Symantec Unveils Integrated Support

Vendor moves toward broadening support, adding single point of contact for multiple services

With yesterday's unveiling of new Business Critical Services, Symantec is trying to address critical service and support needs with three plans built around size and geographic reach, and a fourth based on its Remote Product Specialist line.

The new services track with themes hit on by Symantec CEO John Thompson at the vendor's Vision conference this week. "Enterprises need to keep their infrastructure up and running 24x7. They need to enable access to information anytime and anywhere," he said in his keynote. The problem, is, with all the acquisitions his company's made in the last few years, a rational view of all that -- not to mention a single point of contact -- hasn't been easy for the vendor to deliver.

Hal Stanley, Symantec's senior director for support product management, said the new services are a move in the right direction. Business Critical Services, according to Stanley, are a "first step in merging the Symantec and Veritas support organizations." When the services roll out this summer, most product lines will be included, but those more newly acquired from Sygate, IMLogic, and WholeSecurity will be added later.

Matt Healey, senior research analyst for IDC's software and hardware support services, thinks Symantec did the right thing in slowly combining the support organizations. "When companies merge and mash support organizations together, the services often suffer, which leads to customer confusion and dissatisfaction," Healey explains. "Symantec moved slowly and deliberately to integrate the service offerings, which should result in an easy transition."

All the plans offer round-the-clock telephone support, and with the exception of the Remote Product Specialist plan, include an account manager as contact point.

Graeme Hackland, IT manager for Renault/F1, likes having immediate access to Symantec experts. Prior to using BCS, Hackland says, his team "spent time managing support processes, research issues, and waiting for vendors to get back to them. Having a single point of contact makes our team more efficient."

Hackland also benefits from global access through BCS. "We had a problem with our Unix systems, and through Symantec, were able to determine that we weren't dealing with a security problem allowing us to focus on other sources."

As great as it all sounds, IDC's Healy says the trick with support comes in the execution. "Vendors like Symantec can charge for premium services as long as the support is top notch," he notes.

Pricing assumes that the customer already has a maintenance contract in place. For the top-tier services offerings, the annual list pricing is split into two categories for security products and availability products, with a combined price for both, less 20 percent. Data center support for a single site is $50,000 for either service, or $80,000 for both; national support within a single country is $150,000 for either service, or $240,000 for both; global support will run $550,000 per service and $880,000 for both. According to Healey, these prices are on a par with similar premium support services.

Symantec's other premium offering, Remote Product Specialist, is targeted for enterprises using just a couple of Symantec products and starts at $40,000 per product. Interestingly, this service provides expertise in a technology, not a product. For example, if anti-virus technology is selected, then support reaches across all of Symantec's AV product line. Healey says this type of technology service is uncommon in the premium band but not unique to Symantec.

— Mike Fratto, Editor at Large, Dark Reading

Organizations mentioned in this story

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)
  • IDC

    Mike Fratto is a principal analyst at Current Analysis, covering the Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology markets. Prior to that, Mike was with UBM Tech for 15 years, and served as editor of Network Computing. He was also lead analyst for InformationWeek Analytics ... View Full Bio

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