Are McAfee’s North American partners behind in managed services?

Pedro Abreu

Abreu: European partners further ahead on monthly recurring revenue models.

One of the major announcements from McAfee’s channel team at its Focus 10 conference in Las Vegas was an increased focus on recurring revenue models for its solution providers.

The company said it will roll out in early 2011 a variety of options for its solution providers including cloud-based software-as-a-service, managed services and outsourced services.

But while various flavours of service-based security models remain a hot button topic in the channel, are the company’s North American partners falling behind solution providers from other parts of the world? Pedro Abreu, vice president of go-to-market strategy and channel programs at McAfee, thinks they are today. But he said the company’s got a plan to level the playing field worldwide.

(First of all, a little disclosure: attended Focus 10 as a guest of McAfee Canada.)

Abreu said that particularly in Europe, the company is seeing higher adoption of the managed services model and a variety of other “xSP” models. The company’s been running its programs there for nearly 12 months, and has 30 partners signed up. And while it’s looking to “take it to the next level in Europe,” it’s also looking to take the model worldwide.

Here are some of the lessons Abreu said the company learned in Europe that will help it shape the program as it comes out worldwide:

  • It’s not necessarily pure-play. Donna St. John, director of partner experience at McAfee, said the company has found many project-based resellers ‘like the idea of a hybrid approach” which remains heavily centered around the project work but adds a managed services component to bump up the stickiness and profitability.
  • It’s not necessarily cross-selling: Although getting more of its partners selling more of its product lines remains an important goal for McAfee, the company has learned that when it comes to services, many partners do best by specializing. “You don’t have to adopt the whole portfolio for us to consider you strategic,” Abreu said of the recurring monthly space.
  • Partner types are varied: Abreu said there will be programs for solution providers with and without NOCs and selling through different models. The company’s program will look to embrace those acting as resellers of software-as-a-service type offerings (such as MX Logic) and those looking to do their own SLA-based managed services, with the point of “selling our product or their services” as the differentiation point.
  • It’s an opportunity for new partners: Abreu said the service model is a chance for the company to address new types of partners, because “so many people are looking to for protection” as part of their offering, from the average Exchange reseller to pure-play security providers.

The company has said that its monthly recurring revenues business will look much like the model used by MX Logic before and after its purchase by McAfee. Abreu said that decision has everything to do with the fact that the MX Logic’s “DNA is in SMB,” meaning the company and its partners can address that top growth opportunity without having to offer solutions that were built for the enterprise and either dumbed down or overpriced for smaller customers.

“With MX Logic, we got a very cool product, a new business model, a very vibrant ecosystem of partners and the DNA for SMB,” Abreu said. “We’re looking to leverage that and bring McAfee products into it.”

That doesn’t mean that everything the company’s going to do is going to shift to a monthly recurring revenues model, but Abreu said that the company will be picking up a lot of how MX Logic dealt with its partners in terms of support and enablement, and replicating it out to the broader McAfee channel community.

In fact, when it comes to SMB, Abreu described the McAfee merger as a “reverse acquisition” bringing together McAfee’s size and number of customers in the space with MX Logic’s model and style for smaller customers.

“[McAfee] probably [had] greater revenues in that SMB space than MX Logic, but MX Logic has the DNA in the space,” he said.

Please see’s McAfee Focus 10 News Centre for full coverage of this week’s event.