As Intel Security Cuts And Sells Multiple Products, Waves Of Uncertainty Hit Partners

Intel Security is jumping head-first into a new strategic direction, but the company's rapid moves have some partners concerned.

In the past few weeks, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based security vendor revealed that multiple products have either been sold to other vendors or are being eliminated.

On Oct. 22, Intel Security announced the end of life of McAfee Asset Manager, McAfee Email Security Solutions (including McAfee Email Gateway, McAfee SaaS Email Protection and Continuity, McAfee SaaS Email Encryption, and McAfee SaaS Email Archiving), McAfee Enterprise Mobility Manager, McAfee Network Threat Response, McAfee SaaS Endpoint Protection, and McAfee Vulnerability Manager and Total Protection For Compliance Desktop.

[Related: Intel Security To Sell McAfee NGFW, Firewall Enterprise Businesses To Raytheon|Websense]

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The products will reach their end of life Jan. 11, 2016, and Intel Security has chosen Proofpoint to help transition partners, the company said.

Intel Security also signed its intention to sell its McAfee Next Generation Firewall and McAfee Firewall Enterprise businesses to Raytheon|Websense for an undisclosed amount. The move was revealed Monday in an email to Raytheon|Websense employees, which was viewed by CRN, and is expected to close at the end of the year.

Unveiled by the company at its Focus 15 event in Las Vegas this week, the moves are part of a new strategy through which Intel Security intends to pivot beyond protection to focus on the entire threat-defense life cycle of protection, detection and correction. Chris Young, senior vice president and general manager, said that by changing to this strategy, Intel Security will have to make some "tough tradeoffs" when it comes to its product lines, in order to maximize investments around the new strategy.

"We've announced that there are some products that we're moving either to an end-of-life model or partnering in the marketplace. We've decided that those are areas where we're not going to focus as much so we can pour a lot more of our energy [into new products that fit the strategy]," Young said in an interview with CRN at the event, citing the company's new Active Response solution as an example.

However, partners who spoke to CRN about the changes expressed concern over the lack of clarity about what their vendor partner would look like in the months and years to come. While the majority of cuts seem to be in areas where Intel Security is not a market leader, they said that without clear communication about future plans with the channel, it is disconcerting to see products they sell sold to other vendors or reach their end of life.

"My guess is, when they're all said and done and they’ve finished [streamlining] everything, that there's actually a lot of value to it, but how far do you go?" said one partner executive who did not want to be named. Part of his partnership with the vendor is around the email Software-as-a-Service solutions that are being discontinued, the executive said.

Another executive who sold the email SaaS solutions said he was not aware of being notified of the changes and will likely be transitioning to Proofpoint, as suggested by Intel Security.

Ken Phalen, chief technology officer of Montvale, N.J.-based Gotham Technology Group, said the big question for partners is whether Intel Security will be carrying the lines that partners like Gotham sell going forward. That creates a challenge for partners who want to invest in adding one of Intel Security's product lines, as there is some uncertainty around how long current product lines have to prove themselves to remain in the portfolio.

"If you buy elements of that portfolio, you have to have a certain amount of concern about them," Phalen said.

That being said, Phalen said he didn't get the impression at the company's recent event that the company was looking to abandon its channel partners. About 400 channel partners attended the partner summit portion of the event in Las Vegas.

"I still feel that Intel is committed to the partnerships," Phalen said.

An Intel Security spokesperson declined to comment on the NGFW sale and cited an FAQ for the product end of life steps that said: "We are working to create an integrated system that delivers faster protection, detection and correction. To create that security system, we are investing in solutions for the endpoint, cloud, threat detection, and management that will ensure the security of the endpoint and cloud and all data traversing in between. Increasing our investments in these critical areas required exiting other product areas such as McAfee email security solutions."

Jon Robinson, president of Irvine, Calif.-based Digital Scepter, said the exit moves seem to be taking place primarily in product lines where Intel Security wasn't necessarily the market leader. Digital Scepter partners with Intel Security around MXLogic, one of the email security lines being discontinued.

Having to do R&D to keep up with the company's many product lines is challenging, Robinson said, and the move should allow Intel Security to funnel more investment into technologies such as SIEM, from the NitroSecurity acquisition in 2011, and ePO, where he said the company can lead by integrating third-party vendors for threat intelligence.

"I think they just are getting beat in the market in some areas and they just want to focus on what they're good at," Robinson said.

Phalen agreed that Intel Security appeared to be positioning itself to lead with ePO and its SIEM solution, calling them "best of breed." He said he expects to see investments and possibly some acquisitions in those areas.

"I think they’ve pared it down, and the question is, what's the next step?" Phalen said.