McAfee Launches Cloud Security Platform

McAfee is throwing itself full-force into the cloud with the launch Monday of a security platform designed to protect cloud-based Web, e-mail and identity data.

At its core, the McAfee Cloud Security Platform is designed to comprehensively protect all communications that move between an organization and the public cloud.

Executives of McAfee, now a part of Intel, said the platform emerged after interviews with customers from companies ranging in size from enterprise to SMB, who were interested in moving data to the cloud but had concerns about doing so safely, especially in light of a high-profile cloud data breaches.

"Our customers were saying, 'We want to take advantage of the cloud, but we've got security issues.' Security issues keep popping up as the primary inhibitor," said Marc Oleson, McAfee senior vice president and general manager of content and cloud security. "It's really the cloud ecosystem that the customers are looking at and saying, 'Okay, I want to do that, but how do I do it safely?' This platform is designed to enable just that, for customers to better leverage the cloud."

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Oleson said that ultimately customers are looking to protect three forms of traffic on their networks --- Web, e-mail and identity. What sets the McAfee platform apart from competing cloud security platforms is that it offers protection for all three forms of traffic on one console, he said.

"We eventually see that those communications channels are going to merge. There's tremendous advantage of having all of that data move through one consolidated proxy," Oleson said.

The modular platform -- encompassing Web, mobile, e-mail and Web services security as well as cloud access control -- protects all data traveling both inbound and outbound traffic between and organization and the public cloud.

The Web security component provides protection for incoming and outgoing traffic using reputation and intent-based technologies, while the mobile feature protects data traveling on smart phones and tablets by equipping them with antimalware and Web filtering technologies directed through the McAfee Web Gateway. Additionally, the e-mail security component protects outbound and inbound emails, while using outbound data loss prevention technologies.

The platform utilizes the Intel Expressway Cloud Access 360, which enables service providers to offer access control for cloud apps using enterprise identities, while the Web Services Security relies on Intel's Expressway Service Gateway, which offloads application level API security, data transformation and identity token exchange to a high speed network or cloud gateway.

Executives say that the security modules, which can be managed by McAfee's ePolicy Orchestrator or McAfee SaaS Control Console, can be used in on-premises appliances, a pure SaaS environment or a hybrid of both cloud and on-premise infrastructure.

Subsequently, the modular capabilities of the platform let channel partners build out customers' cloud environment piece by piece at their discretion. Oleson added that enterprise customers tended to lean toward a hybrid solution while smaller customers gravitated more toward a pure SaaS environment.

Next: Platform Enables Partners To Expand Cloud Offerings

Meanwhile channel partners said the platform launch is a good direction for McAfee, especially as more and more of their customers express interest in moving their infrastructure to the cloud while simultaneously wanting to see their data secured.

"Basically what they're doing is they're integrating service-oriented architecture and a security front end to cloud services," said John Pelley, president of Redhawk Network Engineering, based in Bend, Ore. "That platform will really allow customers to apply security policy in the cloud for multiple applications behind it -- McAfee applications or even a third party."

Pelley said that Redhawk, which specializes in e-mail encryption, managed security services, IT audits, and penetration and vulnerability testing, had already been selling McAfee's SaaS security products after acquisitions such as the addition of MXLogix in 2009. Pelley said he was looking to expand other channel offerings to the cloud. The new cloud security platform seemed to come at the right time, he said.

"The biggest concern out there from the clients is becoming 'how do I secure all of this?" Pelley said. "There was a level of excitement initially, but then consultants and auditors are going 'whoa, wait a minute.'

Subsequently, Pelley said that the new platform enables him to expand his customer base and grow his business, adding that cloud protection for third party applications was a big draw for him.

"What's driving that is insecurity of the third party apps that are out of (customers') control. The auditors are asking questions and asking them to provide documentation from the vendor," he said. "The advantage that (McAfee has) is that they're bringing technology to the market that could apply to most applications that you might want to run through it."

"Now we're able to aggregate customers on a national basis and scale our business like never before."