McAfee Closes Skyhigh Networks Deal, Plans To Drive Cross-Sell Opportunities For Channel Partners


McAfee will focus on cross-selling opportunities around its newly-closed acquisition of Skyhigh Networks, particularly for the 20 solution providers working with both security vendors today.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based McAfee said it will spend the next quarter enabling the company's longstanding partners to resell Skyhigh's portfolio so that they can tap into the fast-growing cloud access security broker (CASB) space, said Richard Steranka, head of global channel operations. McAfee announced its intent to purchase Skyhigh on Nov. 27, and the deal closed Wednesday.

"As more workloads move into the cloud, more efforts are needed to protect it," Steranka said.

[RELATED: 10 Things You Need To Know About The McAfee-Skyhigh Networks Cloud Security Megadeal]

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McAfee has discussed enablement with Skyhigh's channel team, and is focused on getting sales engineers enabled and trained quickly so that there's no delay in the go-to-market strategy, according to Ken McCray, head of channel sales and operations for the Americas.

The company plans to initially go after the partners working with both McAfee and Skyhigh today such as Optiv and SHI in an effort to drive scale with them, McCray said. Specifically, McAfee wants to focus on providing these partners with more hands-on product training, demos, and proofs of concept around Skyhigh, as well as reference cases or scenarios where Skyhigh has been used effectively, McCray said.

"The channel is all about capacity," McCray said. "If we're successful, this is going to help us throughout 2018."

From there, Steranka said McAfee and Skyhigh plan to identify and assess the key differences between the partner programs of each company. Skyhigh works directly with channel partners, has a longer sales cycle, and handles deal registration on more of a case-by-case basis, Steranka said, while McAfee has distribution, a shorter sales cycle, and more of an automated and scalable deal registration process.

Partners of both McAfee and Skyhigh will be integrated into a single channel entity at some point this year, Steranka said. Yet although the two channel partners will integrate down the road, Steranka said the focus for now is on maintaining business continuity.

"Their business is growing at a very rapid rate, and we don't want to do anything to complicate that," Steranka said.

Skyhigh partners will also enjoy an opportunity to expand their business since they're now working with a vendor that serves the entire security ecosystem, according to McCray. Steranka specifically pointed to McAfee's Cloud Workload Security (CWS) and Virtual Network Security Portfolio (NSP) as natural adjacencies for Skyhigh partners accustomed to analyzing cloud workloads.

Skyhigh currently has approximately 200 channel partners around the globe, Steranka said.

McCray said he's excited to have conversations with Skyhigh partners that have historically sold an endpoint security offering that competes with McAfee. Steranka said the company's partner program will offer the greatest incentives to solution providers reselling the full McAfee portfolio including endpoint security, data protection, cloud infrastructure security, and professional services.

Channel personnel from both McAfee and Skyhigh will continue to operate in their current capacities, Steranka said, and no workforce reductions are planned since the combined organization is looking to grow its business. McAfee partners can begin reselling Skyhigh products immediately, or vice-versa, Steranka said, with cross-selling information available in both partner portals.

"The interest has been high," Steranka said. "The feedback from partners has been strong."

A successful integration for Skyhigh's channel entails not rocking the boat too much in the first 12 to 18 months and maintaining what partners like about the vendor today, according to Michael Riordan, president of Herndon, Va.-based RavenTek.

Riordan said his company's ability to be successful and differentiate itself is predicated on Skyhigh protecting the integrity of its small channel and not merging everything into the mothership. Riordan hopes McAfee can add fuel to the teams and relationships Skyhigh already has in place with its channel community.

"Short-term, there's excitement about what a company like McAfee can bring to what Skyhigh is doing," Riordan said.