McAfee Emboldens Channel With 'Hot' Growth Opportunities, New Incentives

McAfee partners have been executing on the company's Security Connected strategy over the last year, but hot growth areas have developed, fueled by renewed interest in security analytics and advanced malware detection, and McAfee executives say that puts partners in a prime position to take advantage of the opportunity.

That was the message McAfee executives gave to hundreds of solution providers at the company's daylong SecurityAlliance Partner Summit in Las Vegas. The company is fine-tuning its channel program, adding support, rewards and incentives to fuel aggressive growth in the areas of networking, data center and endpoint security, said McAfee channel chief Gavin Struthers.

"Over the last three years, we've been building a journey toward being better connected, and today we're making the case on what better connected means," said Struthers, senior vice president of worldwide channel operations. "When our sales team knows you are in and doubling down on us, we help you get to growth."

[Related: McAfee Channel Chief Details Partner Growth (Video) ]

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Struthers said McAfee will be revamping its SecurityAlliance Partner Program over the next year, streamlining the five partner programs the company inherited through acquisition. To help fuel growth in the near term, McAfee is removing the rebate payout cap and rewarding registered renewals with a $200 payout to each new renewal, Struthers said. The company also launched a new "Everyone's a Winner" themed promotion, which runs into the first quarter of 2014 and will payout opportunities to active partners to win a trip to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Struthers said the company is proud of its partners' successes, pointing to an 85 percent increase in eligible deal registration bookings over the last year. Rebates have had a 40 percent increase year over year, and McAfee has had a 25 percent increase in paying more rebates out to partners. Rewards payouts have doubled, beating the company's 2012 record, Struthers said. There is also a 33 percent increase in the number of people enrolled in the rewards program, he said.

The company also bolstered its training model, transforming its e-learning continuing education program into a credits-based system that leads to annual recertification on McAfee products, Struthers said. Participation in training rose from 16 percent to 30 percent over the last year. Partners that take training in security information and event management will get double education credits. The company's new StarTrac sales training program has 36 courses across 20 countries, Struthers said. The company also trained 150 channel employees, building out a strong team with the right skills and business acumen to work with partners, he said

Small and midsize business sales remain an important focus for McAfee, Struthers said. To fuel growth, the company launched a managed security provider program to support partner services.

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Partners CRN talked to were generally pleased with McAfee's strategy, but they said the company's technical portfolio must be well executed for long-term success. Channel providers will wait and see if the company can deliver on its technology plans, said Carlos Carnevali Jr., managing director at Sao Paulo, Brazil-based McAfee partner Network1.

"My point of concern is execution," Carnevali said. "As a partner, there is huge opportunity, but on a day-to-day basis and in the field, they need to make it happen."

Businesses that have embraced McAfee's security vision have bought three or more products, said Steve Redman, executive vice president of global sales at McAfee. Redman said the company needs to better engage small and midsize businesses and take advantage of both cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Eighty percent of the top 1,000 customers had three or more McAfee products. Only 1 percent of the next 5,000 customers had three or more products, Redman said.

"We have to have the best Security Connected strategy and be nimble enough to have the hottest technologies when hot markets pop up," Redman said.

Ron Borsholm, a senior security consultant at Bell Canada, said the three-product strategy is a good one, but the solutions need to integrate for a sustainable long-term investment for the end customer.

"Other firms are creating products that are very successful and can integrate and meet specific customer needs," Borsholm said. "There seems to be more development work that McAfee needs to do with its acquisitions."

Redman also acknowledged competitors Palo Alto Networks, which has seen interest and strong market adoption with its next-generation firewall appliances, and Kaspersky Lab, which is also gaining traction in the U.S. and being adopted because it is easy to use and cost effective. McAfee will be rolling out its next-generation firewall built on its $389 million acquisition of Helsinki-based next-generation firewall maker Stonesoft. The company is also making headway with sales of its Complete Endpoint Protection Enterprise suite, which was the result of streamlining multiple suites into one product for enterprises, including Deep Defender for rootkit detection, application control, mobile security and a connection to the company's E-Policy Orchestrator, its centralized management platform.

To meet advanced threat detection, McAfee is debuting Advanced Threat Defense, a mechanism to not only detect advanced threats but also find and treat the infections by freezing the malware, Redman said. The new product has an emulation engine for advanced sandboxing; it treats suspicious files with static and dynamic analysis, and once a file is determined to be malware, it automates the process of freezing and addresses systems with infections. Over the next year, Redman told partners the company was working on ways to build context at the orchestration layer, adding intelligence and event correlation to provide deep security analytics at the data exchange layer of the enterprise.

PUBLISHED Oct. 1, 2013