Symantec Rolls Out SSL Specializations

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Symantec rolled out new specializations around SSL certification, a move that signifies the firm is more proactively and aggressively going after SSL business as cloud and other technologies make the space more competitive.

The cloud has a way of putting new technologies more readily at the fingertips of the SMB and lower market segments. And its impact on the Secure Socket Layer certification is no exception.

With that in mind, security and storage firm Symantec Corp. rolled out a series of new Web site specializations and enablement tools aimed at bringing the SSL market outward and downward. It’s a move that represents a reinvigorated channel opportunity to cultivate new security niches in SSL and bring the solutions ever outward to lower market segments and verticals. In short, Symantec solution providers will be the biggest purveyors.

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Specifically, the Web site specializations entail a series of training, API integrations and deep dives into Symantec branded solutions. And like any certification rollout, that amalgam of tools and training is designed to create differentiation and raise partner value.

More precisely, Symantec said, the specialization launch aims to bolster channel expertise and give partners a few more differentiators when going up against industry rivals. One of those differentiators is access to enhanced training and accreditations, as well as access to resources and tools intended to a swift boost to Web site security and SSL sales, geared for both new and existing SSL partners.

Another one of those differentiators is the newly rolled out GeoTrust Enterprise Security Center, a subscription-based solution that equips partners with multi-certificate management capabilities – also providing partners with competitive edge that they can leverage when cracking into enterprise markets.

But the new Web site certifications are also intended to propel market expansion – with Symantec on the front lines. That means putting SSL within reach of SMB customers and other lower market verticals. Subsequently, the specializations are designed to enable SSL channel partners servicing the SMB, who can now more easily and effectively reach their customers with the cloud.

The specializations also allow Symantec to focus on and enable different types of SSL partners, thus growing the market from all angles, Symantec said. Some partners build entire practices around SSL, and offer end-to-end services that include implementation, monitoring and reporting, among other things. Others still are hosting providers, who offer SSL as part of a bundled checkout process, but obtain the majority of their revenues from a more extensive hosting services portfolio. Finally, the third type of partner are the system integrators, who target larger organizations by bundling a wide array of services -- of which SSL is likely a small component.

For Symantec, the series of SSL specialization roll-outs represent a bit of an about face. Historically, Symantec has largely relied on passive sign-ups for its SSL offerings. But the specializations give partners the ability to go after business more proactively, signifying that the security firm is being more aggressive in going after SSL business.

But why SSL and why now? For one, SSL certification is an area that is experiencing more consistent growth than in previous years. A TechNavio report indicated that that the SSL certification market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.28 between 2011 and 2015, fueled by upward spikes in online transactions and a growing cadre of players that add competitive and differentiating features to their offerings.

And one of the biggest reasons for an anticipated uptick in growth is the cloud. As with other solutions, the cloud makes SSL more accessible to lower markets -- attributed to affordability, ease of use and lack of burdensome infrastructure requirements.

That, in turn, elicits a natural and inevitable boost to market expansion. But it also gives rise to numerous other smaller and more nimble competitors who can easily enter the market and start swiping share from more established, but slower moving, legacy players.

That means – to some degree -- Symantec has its back up against the wall. Subsequently, the Mountain View, Calif.-based security and storage firm will be compelled to find new ways to differentiate while increasingly relying on its channel to make new inroads in previously untapped markets – like the SMB.

For the moment, Symantec still occupies the lions’ share of the SSL certification market, garnered from its 2010 acquisition of VeriSign’s Security Business, along with dedicated firms such as Go Daddy Operating Group LLC and Comodo Group Inc. However, these days Symantec likely realizes it has to work a little bit harder – and increasingly lean on its channel -- to maintain its position.


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