Intel, McAfee Deal: What Channel Partners Are SayingBy Ericka Chickowski | Print
Some have speculated that Intel's ultimate goal in acquiring McAfee is to take security down to the silicon level, and that's a move that could cut McAfee channel partners out. Here's why they aren't worried about it.
As Wall Street analysts and security insiders have been abuzz over the implications of the mega-acquisition by Intel of McAfee for $7.7 billion, many within the security vendor's channel have hardly broken a sweat over the deal. Collectively, many partners see the deal as a non-issue for their short- to medium-term sales strategy as Intel has made no bones about the fact that it intends to run McAfee as a wholly owned subsidiary.
"Honestly, I don't really care, " says John Brewer, president of Expert Network Consultants, a San Francisco security consultancy with Elite VAR status for McAfee. "I know what Intel is doing--they're just trying to grow and expand their business in a way they can't just doing chips. They're buying another company with high gross margins to make their bottom line look better and make themselves look better to Wall Street."
While Brewer does plan on speaking to folks from companies previously acquired by Intel--such as Wind River, which was picked up by Intel in 2009--to "find out if they're getting screwed a year down the road," his gut tells him things will be business as usual for McAfee partners like his company.
"The hope is they take a laissez faire attitude and just run all the revenue through Intel," Brewer says. "It'll be McAfee, an Intel company, and that'll be the end of it."
The analysts and other security industry players seem to agree with Brewer's mindset.
"I'll be honest, I don't think the channel folks should be worried. I don't think there's going to be the usual integration uncertainty; I mean, they're just so distinct those two channels," says Rich Mogull, analyst for Securosis. "I think short-term and probably even medium-term I don't expect to see any changes at all. Really, because how Intel operates with the channel versus how McAfee operates with the channel, I can't imagine that Intel would be so stupid to screw with that."
And while Intel may have a long-term vision of bringing antivirus technology to the silicon layer--a prospect that Mogull believes antitrust concerns could foil anyway--that vision is so far out anyway that it should affect channel players' activity at the moment.
"I think that's outside the window of being able to make any decisions," Mogull says.
Michelle Drolet concurs. Until she sees any changes to McAfee's channel program or the way it interacts with her business, she's staying the course, says Drolet, who's the CEO of Framingham, Mass.-based Towerwall, an information security VAR that works at the Premier level for McAfee.
"As far as I'm concerned right now we're still dealing with McAfee," says Drolet, who explains she's seen plenty of mega-mergers during the last 17 years she's been in business. "I'm going to put my head down, move forward and not worry about it if it's not having an impact on us yet. At this point we just need to take care of our customers and McAfee is doing a really great job."