Symantec adds mobile specialization to partner program

Vizay Kotikalapudi, group product manager at Symantec

Vizay Kotikalapudi, group product manager at Symantec

Symantec says the mobility discussion when it comes to security is rapidly changing, and it’s time for solution providers to bring a broader array of products and services to bear.

The company has introduced a new partner program specialization – Mobility Solutions – the 13th such specialization under its partner program, and one that the company feels is overdue due to changes in the market.

Until now, mobility has been tied in with desktop security – but that pairing was increasingly unpopular with partners, said Vizay Kotikalapudi, group product manager at Symantec. It also ignored the emerging dynamics of the mobility market.

“Until a year ago, even a few months ago, most of what mobility meant for the enterprise customer was providing e-mail policy on the devices – it was MDM,” Kotikalapudi said.

But that has rapidly changed, as the dominance of smartphones has meant a shift from managing the devices to managing the applications people want to run on those devices, especially in a world where smartphones are the poster children for the “bring your own device” movement. Suddenly, users don’t want businesses “owning” the content of their smartphones or enforcing strict device-wide limitations and policies. They want businesses to manage access and security of the applications and corporate data, and leave their personal apps and data well enough alone. That’s where application management fits, a big part of the new mobility specialization, fits into it.

“The conversation is switching from ‘how do we manage these devices’ to ‘I don’t want you to manage my device, I don’t want you to know what I have on my device. Manage your applications and your data but don’t monitor my device,’” Kotikalapudi said. “And more enterprises don’t want the privacy liability of managing those devices.”

With the new specialization, Symantec is also adding an increasing focus on mobile security in the traditional antimalware sense, a timely topic as malware available on mobile devices – particularly Android devices – continue to skyrocket in terms of both numbers of attacks and complexity or sophistication of attacks.

With those three hooks into the mobile security market – application management, mobile device management, and mobile security – Kotikalapudi said Symantec feels it has an advantage in terms of what it can bring to the channel.

“Most of the mobility partner programs you see are focusing on one area – often on MDM,” he said. “Now, we’ve got mobile security, we’ve got application security, we’ve got MDM, and we’ll be adding a lot more in the near future. Partners will be able to solve a wider variety of problems for their customers.”

The specialization follows the path of the evolving customer conversation, Kotikalapudi said, which often starts with mobile device management, then moves into application management, and finally into mobile security as companies start dealing with Android-based employees.

Like other specializations in the partner program, there are no hard costs attached to going for the mobility specializations. Solution providers have to get trained up on the company’s mobile strategies and offerings, and those training materials are available free online.

Kotikalapudi expects the specialization to rapidly become one of the larger ones in the program – fueled by both current partners, and potentially new groups of mobile-specific solution providers with whom Symantec may not have engaged in the past.

“We are having those conversations right now,” he said, with partners ranging from traditional resellers to managed service providers.

Existing partners with a mobility focus (from the desktop and mobility specialization) are being grandfathered into the new program, Kotikalapudi said. Most of them will be already up to speed on the MDM side of the specialization, and will be given target dates by which to complete their training on mobile antimalware and application management solutions.