SVP Young: Intel Security Has No Need To Poach Symantec Partners

The intense, and sometimes heated, long-standing rivalry between Symantec and McAfee will continue, according to Chris Young, who was recently named senior vice president and general manager of Intel Security (formerly McAfee).

Intel Security plans to continue its intense, but "fair," competition and aims to displace Symantec in certain technology areas, said Young, who leads a team bridging the McAfee and Intel hardware and software product teams. There's no need to target Symantec partners, Young said, speaking to reporters on Tuesday about the company's strategy. Intel Security will focus on taking market share from Symantec, and that won't require the need to target Symantec partners, he said.

"I haven't met anyone yet who didn't view that as an intense, yet fair, competition," Young said. "I'm very happy with the partners we have today, and I'm not sure they have any major partners that we need to acquire at this point."

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The battleground between Intel Security and Symantec is mainly being fought at the endpoint, where both vendors share similar antivirus, antimalware, email and web security products. In addition to SaaS-based security, the two vendors also overlap in encryption and data loss prevention. McAfee's portfolio includes networking security appliances in the form of a security information event-management platform, an advanced threat-detection appliance, a next-generation firewall and intrusion prevention.

A Symantec spokesperson declined to respond to Young’s remarks. Symantec partners interviewed by CRN said they have invested in training and certifications, believe in the viability of the market-leading products in the portfolio, and have been standing firm with the company through its internal strife and other cost-saving measures made over the last several years.

Philip de Souza, founder and president of Aurora Enterprises, a Torrance, Calif.-based security consulting firm and Symantec partner, said he is looking at ways to extend his company's portfolio. De Souza, who attended Symantec's Partner Engage event in Phoenix last month, said his company had to make adjustments when it came under Symantec, following the acquisition of encryption giant PGP in 2010.

"In this business, you always have to be ready to adjust to changes," de Souza said, adding that he is staying strong with Symantec but considering other partnerships that fit in his company's data-protection portfolio.

NEXT: Intel Security Partners React To Closer Intel-McAfee Relationship

Young, a former Cisco Systems veteran who joined Intel's management committee in September and reports to Intel President Renee James, is charged with creating a unified Intel Security business unit. Partners should expect more jointly developed products in the second half of 2015, Young said, remaining vague about what future products would look like. Security products will continue to be marketed with the McAfee brand, despite the company's name and logo change, bringing it under the Intel Security umbrella at the beginning of the year.

"When I first met some of the team, it was clear that there's already been a lot that we've done," Young said, pointing to the value of hardware-based encryption, which uses Intel's silicon to boost performance on supported laptops.

In 2015, new microprocesser architectures from Intel are going to enable the company to create "vertically oriented solutions" that leverage the Intel chip set and help provide the "trusted execution of applications," Young said. The aim is to help systems and servers quickly determine whether an application is valid or malicious, he said.

Young pointed to a growing number of independent software vendor partnerships building out products and "working horizontally to drive solutions at the foundation level, such as those in tiny embedded systems, and other components in machinery used in manufacturing, the automotive industry and consumer electronics.

In response to a question about mobile security, Young said mobility is an important part of the company's strategy, but acknowledged that the market for mobile device management is still ripe for further consolidation.

"There's going to be a resettling of who will emerge as the market leaders," he said, adding that the company will continue to enable customers to integrate third-party products into the McAfee centralized management console called ePolicy Orchestrator.

Partners said they are optimistic that the company's closer ties with Intel will result in innovative products and have a positive impact on the security portfolio. The number of partners under McAfee's program appears to have increased since it was acquired by Intel in 2010, but the partner program is far from broken, said Dan Wilson, executive vice president of partner solutions at Accuvant. Both Young and Scott Lovett, also a Cisco veteran who was hired by Intel in September to lead global sales at Intel Security, have strong channel ties, he said.

"McAfee's approach to the channel has been very successful," Wilson told CRN. "They've only been enhancing their program, and I don't see any reason why that would change."

Clients want simpler architectures and don't want to have to deal with a heavy mix of vendor products, said Deborah Gannaway, executive director at Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider DG Technology, an Intel Security partner. Gannaway said that while it's not entirely clear what products will be developed by the joint Intel-McAfee teams, the company won't reverse course on its current strategy.

"They've told us, and have demonstrated, a strong commitment to the channel, and it's only gotten stronger," Gannaway said.