NGFW Business Growing, Says Former Cisco Exec Leading McAfee Sales

McAfee is seeing strong growth of its next-generation firewall appliances, with interest rising in detection of advanced threats and a fully configured automated response system, according to Scott Lovett, a former Cisco sales executive who was named head of McAfee's worldwide sales.

Lovett, a sales veteran, reports directly to McAfee President Michael DeCesare and and will oversee global sales and field operations. He succeeds Steve Redman, who served in the role for about five years.

Lovett held a number of sales roles at Cisco and was most recently part of the team integrating sales operations following the $1 billion acquisition of intrusion prevention system manufacturer, Sourcefire, into Cisco's product portfolio. Lovett was recently Cisco's vice president of worldwide security sales where he defined the go-to-market strategy for the company's security architecture.

[Related: McAfee Stonesoft Strategy Includes Incident Response]

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Cisco was a good place to see the struggles organizations face when protecting corporate networks from a constant barrage of attacks, Lovett said. But McAfee was attractive for its full portfolio of products that incorporate endpoint, data protection and security gear to detect threats to the network, he said.

"Cisco had a banner year in the security space last year, but when I got involved in the space a couple of years ago I started to notice right away that customers were looking not only for a network approach for security but also a desktop approach," Lovett said. "[At McAfee] I feel like I'm really focused on customer success specifically around security."

Lovett said he is working with the field sales team to position the fully integrated portfolio instead of specific products. Teams will help build out architectures designed to meet the needs of specific industry verticals, such as retail, manufacturing and global finance, he said.

McAfee unveiled its Advanced Threat Detection appliance earlier this year. The company is pushing partners to sell more products that make up its fully integrated platform designed to identify so-called advanced threats, and quarantine and remove infections from corporate systems. McAfee also added Stonesoft for next-generation firewall capabilities designed to bolster network defenses.

"Cisco and McAfee have very broad portfolios, but McAfee is really well positioned to help customers figure out how to build a holistic architecture," Lovett said. "That's why we need strong partners that clearly understand the security market and how it's evolving."

To help fuel firewall sales, the company added post-sales and hands-on implementation training for partners, said Gavin Struthers, senior vice president of worldwide channel operations.

The partners that are reaping the biggest benefits are specializing in building out a connected architecture for their clients and growing an expertise around fewer partners, Struthers said. McAfee is also investing in building up its professional services organization to help partners with the strategy, he said said.

McAfee's top global partners all had growth of 20 percent or more last year and the numbers are tracking above 20 percent growth for those partners, Struthers added.

"Partners are more engaged and more committed, especially in bringing in new business," Struthers said.

The rest of the industry is following suit. Symantec said it would roll out its advanced threat detection products and services later this year. IBM acquired Trusteer for advanced malware protection. Palo Alto Networks is adding its Cyvera acquisition for endpoint protection and Cisco Systems is integrating Sourcefire into its product portfolio, selling its FireAmp endpoint agents for visibility and threat detection.

McAfee and Symantec joined Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks as co-founders of the Cyber Threat Alliance, designed to share threat intelligence data and also provide businesses and service providers with actionable data that can be used to block attacks in progress.

Threat detection platforms from a variety of vendors, including McAfee, Palo Alto Networks, FireEye, IBM and Cisco Systems, generate a significant amount of "noisy alerts," that have the potential to overwhelm security teams, said Paul Deur, a principal at Eden Technologies, a Symantec and Cisco Systems partner. Adding more technology without taking a careful assessment of what is in place is a doomed approach, Deur said.

"People don't know where their risks are and where they have no idea of where the greatest exposure is making it pointless to sift through tons of data that might not be obvious and building a strategy," Deur said.

Struthers said McAfee is trying to capture more enterprise wins, but products aimed at small and midmarket businesses are equally as important. Managed services is seeing growth as well as McAfee's hosted security products and protection for cloud-based services, he said.

SMBs are concerned about data protection as they migrate systems to the cloud, said John Farhat, vice president of ACTS Consulting Training Solutions, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based McAfee partner.

"Data security becomes more concerning when systems are migrated offsite and we are also seeing it if they are warehousing backup data off site," Farhat said. "We definitely try to educate the customer that security is not just a hardware and software initiative, it is also about fostering positive behaviors from the users."

McAfee added new partners through a program launched earlier this year which provided free gear to do proof-of-concepts with potential clients. Once a deal is made and delivered, partners under the program get an additional 10 percent rebate.