Symantec has taken the wraps off an online program to assist partners to validate their skills on its technology offerings. The technical specialist initiative was based on online product assessments to measure partner knowledge, vice-president, channels, Asia-Pacific and Japan, John Donovan, said. "We want to let the technical members of our community download the information they need and then do the tests to become accredited," he said. "In the past, partners would have to go through local channel leaders just to get the information. There was no unified way of doing all of this." The program arrives as part of an ongoing series of channel updates, including opening up its silver, gold and platinum levels to resellers across specific market segments. The vendor has also introduced an opportunity registrar. "We have 60,000 partners in system. The process of tying together Veritas and Symantec and working out the online training, opportunity registrations and so on has been massively complex," Donovan said. Symantec estimates it has made a three-fold investment over the past 12 months in updating its PartnerNet partner portal platform. "We've tried to roll this out as smoothly as we can," he said. "It's not the sexiest thing, but people expect a portal to be robust and available 24x7."