Symantec CEO outlines plan for Veritas

Symantec CEO John Thompson said this week that soon after his company merges with Veritas Software, customers can expect to see a new consumer-grade data backup and recovery product -- something Veritas dropped four years ago.

Thompson, who discussed the coming merger during a news conference after his keynote speech here at Storage Networking World, said he expects the stock-swap acquisition of Veritas to close next month. The deal initially was valued at $13.5 billion, but it would be worth about $9.3 billion now because of a drop in the price of Symantec's stock.

"All in all, I'd say we're in terrific shape," he said. "We continue to want to see Day One happen sometime around the end of May. We're still engaged in the reduced cycle with the SEC. Hopefully, that gets resolved very shortly."

Thompson also laid out a vision of a resilient infrastructure architecture that includes security and backup applications under a single user interface.

As for the upcoming consumer backup product, Thompson said it was already in the works before the merger announcement. Aimed at taking on the Norton brand, it will include data protection, retrieval and archiving capabilities. Thompson said that he would like to more than triple Symantec's services revenue from what will be 3 percent when the two companies are officially joined to 10 percent.

"We have more work to do. The opportunity in consulting is three to five times that of the software business. In most businesses, firms are constrained by human capital not opportunity," he said.

Thompson stressed that the combined Symantec and Veritas product line will have a common set of tools and languages, all residing on a single Symantec management interface. "But don't assume we're going to have some great architectural footprint that we're going to drop on everyone on Day One," he said.

The company will begin by offering bundled products in the first six months and then move to integrate products over the next year. For example, Veritas' e-mail archival software and Symantec's antivirus software could be tied together, or Symantec's DeepSite Threat Management System could be joined with Veritas' NetBackup data backup product.

Some Veritas customers expressed concern about the integration of the two companies' product lines and support operations.

"Symantec is more of a consumer-oriented company ... versus Veritas being a very enterprise-direct customer model," said Joel White, lead IT architect at Veritas customer Allstate Insurance. "My top concern is the net spend for software and the value you get form that software."

Symantec has already created an integration management office with 100 people who spend the majority of their time working on integration tasks, White said. Across the two companies, 500 or 600 employees are spending some portion of their time on integration activities, he noted

Asked about the combined company's sales force, Thompson said it will consist of about 3,700 people and will be based on what he called an opportunity-based quota system.

"Unlike the fixed-quota system Veritas used, if a rep has an account and you think you can generate US$50 million revenue, the quota will be somewhere in relationship to that revenue as opposed to every rep is expected to produce US$2 million or US$4 million in revenue, therefore everybody has a US$4 million quota," Thompson said. "We want it all focused on what's the opportunity here, not how do I hit the lights out of the park with some low-ball quota."

Customers will also be able to choose their service representatives from between the two companies.

"What we're not going to do as we work our way through this integration is disrupt relationships," Thompson said. "Over time, customers will then decide which individual rep should manager their relationship, and underneath them will be product and engineering specialists who will come in and deal with specific issues around specific technologies."

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