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McAfee Cautions Channel On Deep Defender Rollout

McAfee tells partners that sales of Deep Defender and ePO Deep Command will be highly controlled due to the complexity of the products and the risk to customers' computers.

Alex Thurber, senior vice president of worldwide channel operations for Santa Clara, Calif.-based McAfee, said Thursday during his quarterly online meeting with channel partners that Deep Defender and ePO Deep Command, if implemented incorrectly, posed too much of a risk to customers. “Please engage with us on these products,” Thurber said. “These are incredibly important, very powerful … It really is important that we jointly work together.”

The concern stems from the change DeepSafe makes in the way security software defends against malware. The technology creates an architectural layer between the processor and the operating system, exposing the system resources where malware can hide and mount attacks.

Deep Defender taps the new technology in searching for kernel malware, such as rootkits that secretly provide access and control of a computer. EPO Deep Command works with Intel’s vPro system management firmware in the chipmaker’s Core business processors to give IT administrators remote access to PCs, even when they are shut off. For example, the product can turn on PCs when offices are closed, install the security update and then turn off the systems to avoid using energy when the computers are not in use.

McAfee plans to make Deep Defender generally available in the first quarter of next year. The vendor is selling Deep Command now, but isn’t ready to let channel partners handle sales on their own. “Our go to market initially will be very controlled,” Thurber said of both products.

While tightening early distribution of the new products, the channel executive opened the doors to going after small and medium-sized businesses, and chided the channel for not being aggressive enough. Thurber reminded partners that enterprises, while bringing bigger individual deals, were a smaller market. "There are more opportunities in SMB and commercial than there are in enterprise,” he said. “It’s an overall bigger business and it's one, to be honest, I don't think we go after enough."

To entice the channel, Thurber said new SMB deals are eligible for a 25 percent margin boost, just like enterprise deals. He also promised approval for deals in less than four hours.

While trying to lure partners with money, Thurber also promised to improve the company’s online resources and tools. He acknowledged that the revamp of the company’s partner portal is taking longer than expected. “I understand that it’s taking longer than we hoped … but we will make that happen by next October.”

What McAfee won’t make happen is a combined channel program with parent company Intel, which finalized its $7.68 billion purchase of the security vendor in February.

Partners feared an Intel-led channel restructuring after the departure this summer of McAfee President Dave DeWalt.

“We’re going to be very careful how we leverage Intel,” Thurber said. “I guarantee you we will not be combining the Intel and McAfee channel programs.”

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