Symantec reigns at Queen

Although the price was right, customer service had a lot to do with Queen’s University implementing Symantec’s Norton Anti Virus (NAV).

When the Kingston, Ont.-based university’s licence with Dr. Solomon’s Anti-Virus tool kit ran out, Queen’s decided to see what else was on the market.

“When we went to find out what it would cost to renew our licence, the number was outrageously big. So we decided to look around and assess. We had to make a change anyway, so it made sense to see what was the best deal,” said Mike Smith, senior technical support specialist in the information technology services at Queen’s in Kingston, Ont.

The initial quotations Queen’s got back meant that getting a site licence translated into more than $100,000 a year – a far cry from its last contract at $14,000 a year.

Smith then turned to someone in marketing ad sales for help. Network Associates Inc. (NAI), which owns McAfee Virus Scan, and Symantec each came back with quotes of $25,000 a year.

“That was double what we had been spending, but close enough that we could eat it,” Smith said, admitting that if Symantec had quoted $50,000 a year, Queen’s would probably be with NAI now.

But they didn’t, and Smith had to make a choice. He said Symantec seemed to be hungry to get information to him and they were ready to work with him to make Norton Anti Virus work at Queen’s.

Prior to this implementation, Smith had developed a software distribution system for Queen’s called Packman, and he had to make sure that whatever system they chose, it would work with Packman. As anybody – staff, student or faculty – arrives at Queen’s they receive a copy of Packman, and once it is on their system it knows how to install about 35 to 40 different programs, according to Smith.

“I did not want to get into a situation where I had one distribution mechanism for the anti-virus stuff and a completely different system for everything else,” he explained.

He said the IT staff at Queen’s are constantly trying to get people to put anti-virus software on their systems.

“The problem with Dr. Solomon was that it was a huge headache to keep the thing up to date. You didn’t have to uninstall the current version, but you had to do a complete reinstall,” Smith said.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec offers Live Update for its software via a Web portal which connects to the company’s server and downloads new information.

Kevin Krempulek, Canadian corporate and education sales manager for Symantec, said the Live Update feature was one of its competitive advantages.

“It automatically updates to the latest version without rebooting,” he explained. “That saves a lot of time because when new viruses come out we build new tweaks to the software and we update the engine.”

He called this implementation a big win for Symantec.

“It shows that we can custom-design the product,” Krempulek said.

Eddy Campbell, associate dean in the faculty of arts and sciences, said the difference in upgrading is not noticeable to him.

“Not to any great degree. It’s true NAV installs in a couple of seconds whereas Dr. Solomon took 30 seconds,” he said.

He said now that he has the software installed on his computer he will let the software review everything on his hard drive.

“For the most part it just runs in the background,” he said. “It won’t let me shut down if I have a floppy in my drive.”

He uses the update through Packman about once a week.

Smith said there are about 14,000 Packman clients right now and Queen’s has had 3,300 installs of NAV since its June implementation. He admitted that was a low adoption rate, but noted that it is summer and several students and faculty are not on the campus.

He added they have had very few problems from users regarding the installation.

“Most of the problems were people who had other anti-virus software on their computer, but didn’t know it,” he said.