Brocade, McAfee Tighten Alliance With Focus On Joint Marketing

Brocade and McAfee have expanded their existing strategic partnership to provide combined networking and security offerings, as well as marketing support, to the channel. According to the companies, which confirmed the move Thursday, the goal is to jointly engage partners that carry both vendors' products, as well as recruit from each other's channel ecosystems and go after key customer accounts together.

The two vendors will provide marketing and sales training materials to partners, including detailed use cases that explain how Brocade data center products and McAfee security products go together to address multiple customer needs.

"No one buys security in isolation to solve or prevent a problem, but as anyone who does anything in this space knows, there's no better partnership than security," said Alex Thurber, senior vice president of worldwide channels and commercial sales at McAfee. "It's all about ensuring that we have, on our side, the sales enablement pieces to properly enable the channel to sell the solution. If you have a company primarily focused on networking, you may not know all the right questions around security. We want to show them all the different possible opportunities."

The companies are cross-pollinating on the technology side, as well. IT administrators, for example, can now use Brocade IronView Network Manager (INM) to discover and monitor McAfee security devices using a single interface. The INM can automatically respond to security events coming from McAfee's network access control, intrusion prevention and firewall products.

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There's similar compatibility between Brocade ServerIron ADX Series Layer 4-7 switches and McAfee firewalls, in that administrators can add firewalls without interrupting or reconfiguring their Brocade network setup.

"We're driving the technologies closer together. The customer will notice more and more seamless interoperability," Thurber explained.

The joint offerings are available through solution providers carrying both Brocade and McAfee. VARs that carry both companies represent about 10 percent of the Brocade channel, said Barbara Spicek, vice president of worldwide channels at Brocade, but the partnership will allow both vendors to recruit from each other's broader channel base.

"I think it will go both ways. I see this as a general pull in the market," Spicek said. "What we have here is very much in line with Brocade's strength-of-partnership philosophy. I see it as offering partners what I'd call a one plus one equals three partnership."

Additional technical, pre- and post-sales support for partners pushing joint solutions will come from both Brocade and McAfee over the next 12 months. According to Spicek, Brocade will be investing additional marketing development funds (MDF) for partners taking advantage of the McAfee partnership.

McAfee was the best fit for Brocade among security vendors because they offer the most comprehensive product portfolio, said Amy Medeiros, director of strategic alliances at Brocade.

"Security is becoming a conversation at the beginning of the sale," she said "McAfee has the most comprehensive security suite of anything out there. When you look at the competitors, Symantec is a great company -- we've done interoperability testing with them -- but they have point solutions. Customers looking for an integrated approach and an intelligence between two devices we thought were best served with McAfee."

The vendors also have shared strength in security-centric vertical markets like the federal government. Medeiros added that both vendors will help each other out by providing account leads to one another and making sure those get to channel partners. Brocade, for example, will provide McAfee with three accounts that have security requirements, and McAfee will do the same, providing accounts that have networking and infrastructure needs.

Both companies will also come up with a "wish list" of target accounts for both companies, and the channel will receive the leads from each, Madeiros said. Brocade and McAfee reps will also both be paid for delivering those target accounts, she explained.

Next: Partners See Networking-Security Crossover

In general, Medeiros said, the trend of networking-centric solution providers adding security to their practices, and vice versa, is something that's happening with greater frequency -- and that's what Brocade and McAfee are hoping to harness.

Julio Sanchez, executive vice president, infrastructure business at FishNet Security, an Overland Park, Kan.-based solution provider, said that's definitely happening among VARs.

"There was a time when there was a hard line between security folks and networking folks," he said. "It's more of a dotted line now than a solid line, and you're starting to see that change all over the place."

Sanchez said the immediate benefits of the partnership will allow him to go deeper and wider into FishNet's existing customer base. He urged Brocade and McAfee to expand their partner resources to include training for solution provider account representatives, especially since, as in FishNet's case, many of the solution providers who carry both Brocade and McAfee are large VARs with lots of account managers.

"We want them training at the street level," Sanchez said. "Taking an existing security rep that's been selling security and getting them up to speed on the networking piece will be key. We need to educate ourselves and let our customers know that saves time and money by merging solutions from those two manufacturers together."