McAfee, Verizon Business Partnership Extends Managed Services Reach

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The alliance, launched Thursday, is intended to provide McAfee's line of enterprise security products and technology to Verizon's customers, distributed via its data center outsourcing, consulting and managed services capabilities. The partnership will also pave the way for suites of new cloud-based managed services scheduled to launch in 2010, executives said.

"Obviously, Verizon has a unique role -- a big service provider who has a great relationship with our customers and obviously has access to those enterprise accounts," said Alex Thurber, senior vice president of worldwide channel operations for McAfee. "We think this is a great opportunity."

The partnership is aimed at integrating security into myriad managed services, which will open up security to smaller and smaller businesses and ultimately drive more business down market, in addition to branch offices of enterprise and midmarket organizations, executives said.

"We're defiantly opening up to go into those small and medium businesses," said Cindy Bellefeuille, Verizon director of global security product management. "They can take advantage of the cloud-based serviced services as well. It's also a great option for larger customers that have these extended enterprises."

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One of the most significant offerings stemming from the partnership is a new service, set to launch some time this fall, aimed at helping Tier 4 businesses -- the smallest of all merchants -- meet PCI compliance requirements.

Bellefeuille maintained that with limited IT staff and budgets, Tier 4 merchants, which comprise 99 percent of all merchants and one-third of all credit card transactions, are the most susceptible group of retailers for a data breach.

"A third of all transactions represent a serious risk," she said. "[Tier 4 merchants] have very low compliance."

Other services coming down the pike in 2010 include content filtering, e-mail filtering, intrusion prevention services and SSL VPN services, which would all be managed by Verizon Business and operated in the cloud.

In addition, McAfee will also be able to access data center outsourcing services from Verizon Business, which will also help McAfee manage its 24x7 Web hosting operations and further equip the company to provide more cloud-based services down the road.

McAfee executives maintain that embarking on a partnership with Verizon Business made sense in light of the fact that more enterprises and government organizations are moving basic operations toward the cloud.

"Customers are looking for security to be architected and integrated into the stack. It was a great fit," said David Scholtz, senior vice president of worldwide strategic alliances at McAfee. "They also were seeking to explore the strategy of embedding security everywhere."

Executives said that channel opportunities are still in the process of being worked out. While not immediately clear how the channel would play a role in the new managed service offerings, executives said that they were keeping options open for potential managed service partners to serve some of the smaller markets.

"Some of the integration that we're doing does take our products in new directions in a managed environment," Scholtz said. "It is possible to take those technologies and expose them to other partners."