Symnatec just announced its Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition 2013 which effectively moves Symantec's flagship security solution for SMBs to the cloud. The solution has an on-premise solution as well giving SMBs the flexibility to start with an on-premise solution or use directly a cloud-based solution with no additional hardware requirements and no special IT staff or training needed.
In the SMB space, the trend is definitely moving to the cloud, with SMBs reporting growth in the average number of cloud applications rising from 2 in 2010, to 4.3 last year and expected to hit over 7 this year. Symantec has seen flat revenue in a growing market and needs to take advantage of this trend in cloud services. Security is among the most widely deployed cloud application (~60% of Cloud Users). Symantec has a very broad portfolio of products and despite a management shakeup and unwanted attention from hactivists; they have been able to maintain stability over the past few years. Having said that, there is always some uncertainty when migrating from one architecture to the next; it will be very important to maintain a solid opportunity for channel partners and they will have to execute well as they make this move.
Symantec needs to ensure that their channel partners are well trained in the difference between between the 2013 cloud edition and the 12.1 on-premise version to avoid any SMB marketplace confusion. Symantec also needs to make sure that their marketing campaigns present the choice of offers as a benefit rather than a hard decision; there are benefits to both cloud and on-premises versions depending on the SMB customer need. We have found that there is a gap in demand from channel partners for cloud security services based on what they are hearing from their SMB customers – Vertical Applications, Security and Storage and Backup solutions top the list of requested applications.
All software companies are wrestling with or implementing cloud services strategies. After Cloud Security, which is a strategic imperative for Symantec, the largest opportunities within Cloud Infrastructure are in Remote Storage & Backup services, unless they step far outside their core business. SMBs recently reported that although their business priorities have remained fairly constant, 77% want vendors to reduce complexity in IT so they can focus on business and customers. It seems Symantec wants to enable that by offering both (all) their services through a common interface which is delivered through the channel and allows remote management of both On-Premises installed base and Cloud versions. If they can do this successfully, it should be a win for both small businesses and channel partners. Even so, the devil is in the detail, and if they fail to bring both of these to the market successfully they risk losing credibility in their core security market.