McAfee's Struthers: New Incentives, Level Playing Field Paying Off

McAfee is continuing to make strides with its channel program, addressing partner concerns with a revamped portal, continuous outreach and incentives that help level the playing field between its sales reps and partners.

Gavin Struthers, McAfee's channel chief, said the company remained firm with its certification program, weeding out VARs over the past year that did not meet the stringent standards to get sales engineers certified on McAfee's security product portfolio. McAfee is seeing double-digit growth with its committed channel partners, said Struthers, who serves as senior vice president of worldwide channels at McAfee.

Despite global economic pressures, the market for security technologies is projected to be in the tens of billions of dollars with more than half devoted to services, Struthers said. "Everyone is under pressure to cut costs, but if you look at our customers there is a great desire to do more security across the board," he said.

[Related: 2013 Partner Programs Guide: Security Vendors ]

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Struthers and other McAfee executives were in New York this week, talking with some of its more than 2,000 partners to get feedback on the channel program and learn about where sales growth is happening in the field. Most partners are in a transition phase with pure reselling in decline and increased growth in providing cloud-based management services, according to Struthers.

While cloud adoption may be sluggish, BYOD is of interest to potential McAfee customers, he said. In addition, improved antimalware technology using sandboxing technology to quickly isolate and address sophisticated malware attacks is a boon for channel partners, with potential clients concerned about targeted attacks and intellectual property theft.

Some partners are finding success by choosing to commit to three or more McAfee products, selling the company's ePolicy Orchestrator and pieces of the product portfolio that integrate with the management console. McAfee is seeing 30 percent growth in deals of more than $1 million, which typically include three or more products.

McAfee is in a heated battle with archrival Symantec as Symantec is in the midst of reworking its entire product strategy. Symantec executives are remaining tight-lipped, offering few details about how the company's retooled go-to-market strategy may look in the coming months. McAfee and Symantec each have a firm grip on the North American market.

NEXT: McAfee's Struthers Says Program Changes Paying Off

McAfee next week plans to roll out the McAfee One Time Password Server, which supports two-factor authentication across a variety of networking appliances, Web servers and cloud gateways. The product bolsters authentication, one of a number of coverage areas that McAfee executives hope partners choose to focus on. Partners that sell and deploy solely around McAfee's platform and its various components are seeing the most growth, Struthers told CRN.

Stephen Perciballi, category leader in security at Toronto-based Softchoice, a McAfee partner, said he is seeing a lot of interest in the company's products. McAfee has a strong team in place and seems to be executing on its strategy under Intel, Perciballi said.

"There's a lot here that they have to offer and our clients are seeing the benefits," Perciballi said. "There may be a few customers that question Intel's control, but it's clearly not having a negative impact at all."

To take the complexity out of the McAfee channel, many of the programs aimed at specific McAfee products have been consolidated under the direction of Lisa Matherly, vice president of worldwide partner programs and marketing. The company is reaching out to help partners with deal registration and leveling the playing field with its own sales team by addressing compensation neutrality with incentives to work with partners. In January, the channel team also created a Stack Challenge Tetris-style game that partners can play based on their profitability and earn additional cash prizes. New data center demand generation kits were delivered in April with training materials and co-marketing emails.

The channel program improvements appear to be coming to fruition. Struthers said McAfee has paid out more than $2 million in rewards to individual partners, a 40 percent increase over a year ago. The company's top 20 value partners have seen their business revenue increase more than 60 percent with McAfee, he said.

"These numbers are proof that our strategy and execution is resonating with our partner community," Struthers said.


This story was updated on April 18, 2013, at 1:55 p.m. PST, to clarify McAfee's plans to roll out One Time Password Server, and not the integration of its Nordic Edge acquisition.