Why the truth hurts for Veritas support

Nobody is ever likely to accuse John Thompson, CEO of Symantec of beating around the bush. Having previously declared that he was not interested in “going whining” to regulatory authorities about Microsoft’s push into the security market — preferring instead to “whip them” in the marketplace — last week he poured further scorn on the Redmond company’s security savvy.

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By  Peter Branton Published  May 14, 2006

|~|Getty-JohnTa-body.jpg|~|Symantec CEO John Thompson admitted to issues with Veritas customers. |~|Nobody is ever likely to accuse John Thompson, CEO of Symantec of beating around the bush. Having previously declared that he was not interested in “going whining” to regulatory authorities about Microsoft’s push into the security market — preferring instead to “whip them” in the marketplace — last week he poured further scorn on the Redmond company’s security savvy. “We know more about security than they ever will,” he told delegates to the company’s Vision customer event in San Francisco, US, last week. While the security giant is indeed knowledgeable about its core business, it has proved less successful in understanding some other areas of its business, namely how best to support some of the products — and hence customers — that it acquired when it bought disaster recovery software firm Veritas in 2004. One specific problem that Symantec has been struggling with relates to supporting e-mail archiving technology that Veritas itself had just acquired shortly before the merger with Symantec went through. Now, Symantec seems to be having problems providing adequate support for all of its customers using this product. While Thompson last week claimed the company was investing more money in training up support operatives, he acknowledged that “we’re a long way from addressing these [issues] to the extent that customers are going to be totally satisfied.” Such problems are not exactly unexpected with such a massive merger of course. After the Veritas deal was successfully wrapped up in July last year, Thompson admitted to reporters that “We’re like a dog that’s chasing a car. Now we’ve caught it, people ask ‘What do you do with it?’” (see IT Weekly 16- 22 July 2005). So how good is Symantec’s driving right now? Despite admitting to a few bumps on the road, Thompson could point to the company’s latest financial results, also released last week, which showed better-than-expected revenues and profits for the firm. While costs have risen since the merger, revenue has also risen: up from US$712.7 million to US$1.24 billion for its most recent financial quarter. The company attributed this to increased demand for its Norton Internet Security product and growth in all regions. The company saw its share price rise 3% last week as a result of the positive results, helping to offset some of the dip that it has experienced since the Veritas deal went through. So, there has clearly been solid progress made, but Symantec still needs to address the issues with its Veritas customers. It also needs to convince the market that its strategy of treating security and availability as two sides of the same coin is the way forward. And while Thompson can talk a good fight, his company has to prove that it can live up to his words when it comes to taking on Microsoft. ||**||

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