McAfee New Channel Chief Pledges Better Partner Enablement

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print

Fernando Quintero, McAfee’s new vice president of channels for the Americas, is making the creation of holistic, centrally managed security systems and better partner enablement tools the cornerstone of his agenda.

Fernando Quintero, McAfee's vice president of channels for the Americas

While some security vendors are claiming increasing sales of individual products, McAfee’s new Americas channel chief Fernando Quintero is focused on building a holistic channel that’s able to sell integrated products as part of suites or purpose-built systems.

Quintero, who took charge of McAfee’s channels in May, sees his job as one of tearing down walls between products groups and helping solution providers identify technologies for integration as holistic, centrally managed security systems.

"The channel says we want more, but they don’t want more money. They want guidance on how to build solutions and services practices," says Quintero. "We’re going to focus on how to take teams and resources and do more cross-selling and deeper into accounts."

Security spending, in general, has taken a hit under the weight of the recession. As businesses trimmed IT spending, they made corresponding cuts in security spending. According to Informatics, spending on security hardware and appliances fell 16 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

Sales of core security technologies such as antivirus, however, have remained steady or growing, according analysts firms. Recession resilience is due, in part, to the ever increasing number of threats and attacks. In 2008, antivirus vendors wrote more than 1.8 million signatures, more than all the signatures produced in the last two decades.

Kaspersky Lab, Sophos, AVG and others security software vendors that make up the sliver of market share not held by McAfee and Symantec claim to have capture more customers and partners at the expense of the market leaders. While end user organizations are traditionally loathed to rip and replace antivirus providers, these companies say end user organizations have grown tired of what many call bloated and expensive antivirus engines.

Quintero recognizes the complaint and the gains claimed by other antivirus vendors, but expresses confidence in McAfee’s technology, channel strategy and market position. Antivirus has become the generic encompassing term for software that includes protection and controls for spam, spyware and phishing attacks. Quintero says McAfee has those technologies and more.

McAfee has been on the move over the last year. In the fall of 2008, it bought Secure Computing, giving it security appliances, a firewall and tokens. McAfee has made several acquisitions in the past five years, among the more notables are Foundstone for vulnerability and risk management, IntruVert for intrusion prevention systems and Reconnex for data loss prevention technology.

 "Not only do we have the best of suite, we have the best of breed solutions," Quintero says. "When we look at the secondary and tertiary vendors, we see that they’re point products so they don’t have the same capabilities that we have."

McAfee has been busy building alliances to strengthen its position against rival Symantec and challenger Microsoft. In May, McAfee announced an alliance with Hewlett-Packard, in which HP’s services division will resell its entire McAfee product portfolio. More recently, McAfee signed an alliance with storage giant EMC to develop online storage services to rival Symantec. And its Security Innovation Alliance continues to add security and non-security members that integrate their offerings into McAfee’s ePolicy Orchestrator, a centralized management console.

As McAfee continues to integrate its existing technology and add new alliances, Quintero says the company will look to align its products more closely with the market needs and channel partners capabilities. He pledges that McAfee will develop more and better enablement tools, technology and solution roadmaps and products that lend themselves to better profitability for partners.

Commitment is something the channel will not only want to hear, but see. Several McAfee partners and defectors have complained that margins on McAfee products are declining into the single digits and that the channel organization, which has been under the stewardship of Roger King, the company’s executive vice president of worldwide sales.

McAfee’s channel was rocked last year when longtime channel chief David Dickison was ousted in favor Lisa Loe, a longtime channel executive at Symantec. Loe lasted in the job for just three months before quietly exiting the company, leaving the channel management in limbo.

Quintero isn’t oblivious to McAfee’s past, but insist on looking forward to the company and its partners’ future. "We see the opportunity clearly," he says. "It’s about how we engage and effectiveness with the channel."

Quintero adds, "From the CEO down, we are committed to the channel."

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.