McAfee Aims to Rally the Channel
McAfee has a broad range of security products in its portfolio, but it is best known for selling anti-virus software.
At the recent McAfee Focus 2013 conference, the company rallied channel partners to increase the number of McAfee products they sell into any account to at least three while at the same time promising to make sales enablement across the channel a much higher priority in 2014.
"Our sales enablement tools will get a lot more prescriptive," said Lisa Matherly, vice president of worldwide partner programs, marketing and operations for McAfee, a subsidiary of Intel. "We're going to help our partners identify the best swim lanes for them."
More specifically, Gavin Struthers, senior vice president of worldwide channel operations for McAfee, told partners that McAfee will take a series of steps to ensure that all the new technologies that the company recently acquired provide new services opportunities for channel partners. At the same time, Struthers also said that McAfee will soon hold partners more accountable for closing the leads that McAfee generates on their behalf.
Key to the McAfee strategy are not only the recently updated security information event management (SIEM) platform McAfee gained with the acquisition of Nitro and a new threat-defense appliance that McAfee announced at the conference but also the network-firewall technology it gained via the acquisition of Stonesoft earlier this year and the McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) management framework that ties all McAfee products and technologies together.
"The good thing is that Intel has pretty much left them alone," adds Paula Musich, principal analyst for enterprise security at Current Analysis. "And now they've made a series of acquisitions of some really good companies."
In fact, Steve Redman, executive vice president of sales for McAfee, emphasized to partners that, when three or more McAfee products are installed in an account, the share of wallet that McAfee and its partners enjoy in that account increases by a factor if eight. As such, he told partners at the conference that deal size and transaction volume would be a high priority for McAfee in this fiscal year.
The degree to which McAfee can rally the channel remains to be seen. Most partners carry multiple security products in their portfolio as part of a defense-in-depth strategy that usually involves multiple vendors. McAfee is promoting a layered security approach that significantly lowers the total cost of security by eliminating the multiple vendors that IT organizations routinely deal with.
In addition, McAfee is promoting a closed-loop security system that not only identifies threats but also fixes the vulnerability. All this ties back to an integrated security approach with underlying hardware that, as McAfee's parent company, Intel is now finally starting to aggressively promote after acquiring McAfee in 2011 for $7.68 billion.
After revamping its channel programs earlier this year to give partners a more cohesive approach to dealing with McAfee holistically, the challenge facing McAfee now is clearly going to be getting partners to go to market around that entire McAfee strategy.
That effort, however, may get more difficult to complete as security and IT operations management continue to converge, which in effect turns managed security into a feature of a larger IT services management portfolio.
But Mark Geary, chief services officer for Digital Hands, a provider of managed security services, explained that a lot of organizations still prefer to keep security and IT separate to provide a series of checks and balances with their organizations.
"The goal is to keep IT and security separate," Geary said.
In the meantime, McAfee's channel effort appears to be a work in progress that is just now starting to gain some traction.
"McAfee has done a good job listening to the channel on the need for things like utility-based pricing," said Matthew Gyde, global general manager for security at Dimension Data, a global provider of IT services that is a subsidiary of NTT Group.
"McAfee has acquired a lot of stuff," added Steve Duncan, vice president of security and strategy for Lumenate, a solution provider that partners with McAfee. "These are the first steps in a long journey."
Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.