Few could argue that Intel's acquisition of McAfee has the potential to elicit a security paradigm shift with the integration of security on the chip set. But despite repeated promises from Intel to continue running McAfee as a standalone business, VARs say the deal connotes sense of doom for SMB channel relations, the future of packaged security software and McAfee's relevance as a competitive industry player.
Some McAfee partners say the merger doesn't bode well for the mid-tier and SMB reseller, as the driven, enterprise-oriented culture at Intel will only enable the biggest VARs to remain profitable and meet required sales quotas.
"When companies get bought out by a bigger company, it's rarely good for the average channel partner," said Andrew Plato, president of Anitian Enterprise Security, a Beaverton, Ore.-based solution provider. "It's good for the massive value reseller -- their business models tend to align. A larger company is going to tend to align to a channel program skewed for larger volume versus smaller volume."
Some VARs contend that McAfee's gradual move away from the SMB -- demonstrated by a partner program that rewards larger deals and an acquisition strategy that's focused on high-end start-ups -- will only accelerate as the integration process continues. The strong financial backing and global reach provided by Intel does not necessarily mean McAfee's problems with SMB VARs are going to get better, partners said.
Daniel Duffy, CEO of Fresno, Calif.-based Valley Network Solutions, said that his company had previously started pulling away from McAfee because of its lack of SMB focus. "Part of the problem is that they don't seem to do well in secondary and tertiary markets and SMB. I don’t think that this [acquisition] is going to make it better."
Next: McAfee's Turbulent Channel History