McAfee Doubles Down On Security Risk Management

antivirus risk management

McAfee in recent months has been busily acquiring technologies to fill out its security risk management portfolio, which now includes auditing, risk assessment, policy enforcement and data leak prevention offerings. Earlier this month, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor filled a newly created executive position -- vice president and chief technology evangelist -- to spread the word about the myriad benefits of its security risk management products.

Security risk management is McAfee's overarching approach to selling its entire product portfolio, said Dave Dickison, senior vice president of North American channels. However, since the antivirus market is mature, McAfee wants channel partners to focus on the capabilities of its more complex offerings such as Network Access Control, ePolicy Orchestrator, Foundstone, Preventsys and Data Loss Prevention, he added.

"Our intent is to encourage partners away from selling point products to selling a more comprehensive security solution," Dickison said.

McAfee antivirus partners that don't get on board with the security risk management strategy will likely receive diminished support from the vendor, according to solution providers.

Sponsored post

"Partners who focus on antivirus will struggle to stay relevant in the McAfee channel because they're not going to be able to build relationships with customers and up-sell and cross-sell," said one McAfee solution provider, who requested anonymity.

Jim Hindy, CEO of Entre BTG, a Norcross, Ga.-based solution provider that has focused on security risk management products for the past three years, said it makes sense for McAfee to focus channel resources on partners with higher levels of technical expertise.

"Risk management solutions have longer sales cycles, require more technical resources and affect different decision makers -- 'C' level people vs. purchasing people," Hindy said. "I wouldn't say they're squeezing the antivirus guys out but instead are enhancing the partners that are stronger from a technical standpoint."

McAfee earlier this month reorganized its sales resources around three business segments: small/consumer (1 to 100 seats), midmarket (100 to 1,000 seats) and enterprise (1,000 seats and above). McAfee expects to make a "significant investment" in the new midmarket segment, which will create demand for McAfee solutions and help qualify leads that will be passed on to partners, according to Dickison.

"We expect that partners will still be engaged in the antivirus business but will leverage the newly created midmarket team to help qualify leads and ensure quicker time to sales," he said.

Leads currently generated through McAfee's MAX partner portal "are 99 percent useless," so anything McAfee could do to improve this area would be welcome, one solution provider said. "They need to better qualify the leads and provide better information," said the solution provider, who asked not to be named.

Simmering discontent in McAfee's channel partner ranks is one factor that could stall the progress of the vendor's high-end product push. After McAfee made two rounds of channel layoffs in the last six months -- including several account managers -- solution providers are frustrated by the need to constantly form new channel relationships.

"From a channel partner perspective, we have all but blown off McAfee as a stable partner of ours. It's hard for us when we have to continually restart our relationships," said a solution provider, who requested anonymity.

Another McAfee channel partner, who has had six account managers in three years, wasn't surprised by the latest round of channel layoffs. "McAfee can't seem to settle down and create any value for the midmarket security integrator and help us build our business," the partner said, asking not to be identified.

McAfee's channel program, as currently constructed, lacks staff with strong local reputations for channel integrity, channel development and the ability to broker partner interests within its organization, said yet another McAfee solution provider. The VAR, who's looking to boost his security risk management business because of its healthy services revenue potential, is evaluating other vendors' risk management offerings.

"We're in a stand-pat mode, waiting to see what happens. [McAfee is] going to have to show me this time before I start doubling down on my bet," the VAR said.