McAfee points partners at new models

Alex Thurber video interview

McAfee channel chief Alex Thurber.

When last I spoke with McAfee channel chief Alex Thurber, in August of this year about the company’s revised deal-registration program, I got the sense that things might be slowing down in the pace of change to McAfee’s partner program, which had seen substantial overhauling since Thurber joined the company two years ago.

The groundwork for the new program was in place, he said, and it was time to focus on making working with McAfee more “profitable and interesting.”

But after Thurber’s keynote at his company’s Partner Summit, part of its Focus 11 event in Las Vegas last week, I’m left with the impression that I was either wrong, or my definition of “slowing down” is very different from that of Thurber’s.

In a wide range of announcements, the company introduced new programs and focuses for its partners, ones that will potentially change the role McAfee partners play in the near future.

Last yea at Focus, McAfee’s Pedro Abreu, vice president of go-to-market strategy and channel programs at McAfee, shared with me his perception that North American solution providers were falling behind on recurring-revenue models like Software-as-a-Service and managed security services.

A year later, the company is clearly rallying its partners around the opportunity in those two fields. In his keynote, Thurber introduced a new SaaS Monthly specialization within the channel program, borrowing the channel SaaS best practices it learned from its acquisition of MXlogic.

“I know just how important SaaS is to your business model, especially when you’re looking at SMB,” Thurber said.

But perhaps the biggest upside Thurber addressed is the opportunity for managed security services – a $17 billion opportunity, he said, that’s growing at 17.5 per cent. And one that McAfee wants a big part of.

“I have challenged out team to double our managed security business over the next 12 months,” Thurber told partners.

To do that, the company will roll out a Managed Service Provider Program, the first foray of McAfee’s partner program outside of traditional resale and implementation. The program will have to tiers – Elite and Premier – and will have “higher requirements” than the traditional partner program, requiring members to have do specific training, do joint business plans and maintain revenue minimums with McAfee.

Thurber also announced significant changes to its pre- and post-sales support plans for partners, announcing that the McAfee ACE (Acredited Channel Engineer) was now generally available around the world. ACE has been in testing for a while, and is a certification that requires testing and a proof of concept in the real world with customer. Benefits of the program include visibility with McAfee’s sales team, exclusive support and resources, and doubled benefits under the McAfee Rewards incentive program.

“By this time next year, I think every Elite partner should have at least one ACE on staff,” Thurber told partners.

The flipside of that coin is the McAfee Authorized Support Provider program, which gives partners access to more post-sales and support options. In the past, these were services that McAfee delivered directly. But as the company’s revenues have doubled over the past five years, keeping it in-house doesn’t scale. The program will be rolled out worldwide, to Elite partners first, and Thurber reported encouraging results from early testing of the program – he said that eight pilot partners in the program have seen a 43 per cent increase in bookings as a result of MASP.

I also had the opportunity to sit down with Thurber for a few minutes at the event, and you can see the results in the video below. Our conversation starts with the Canadian availability of the new Deep Defender and Deep Command products, and winds its way through managed services, SaaS, and much more.