McAfee Touts Power in Network Security Push

McAfee Inc. has always had a network security play. But these days, it’s bringing its network security portfolio a little more to the forefront.

With that in mind, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based security company released its network intrusion prevention (IPS) system, McAfee Network Security Platform NS-series.

The solution is a collaborative effort between parent company Intel and its security subsidiary – in fact the first IPS hardware platform based on Intel technology – and more compact than its predecessors.

That said, the solution is relegated to the McAfee channel –as opposed to Intel’s — despite its origins as a joint effort between the two organizations, possibly limiting cross-sell opportunities between the two channels.

But to its own channel partners, McAfee is illuminating power and performance, billing the solution as “bigger and badder, with more things than the one before it,” Nat Smith, McAfee senior product marketing manager, told Channelnomics.

To that end, the NS series touts a 40 Gbps throughput, which Smith said remains consistent, even when turning on all additional functionality during throughput tests. The appliance line also features throughputs of 20 Gbps and 10 Gbps.

Additionally, the network security platform features advanced threat capabilities – an increasing necessity to stay competitive – with the ability to analyze and contextualize threat data in order for customers to make more accurate decisions regarding their security posture.

“IPS is not a game of just having signatures match up to threats,” Smith said. “We have to do things a little bit differently. We have to actually look at behaviors and contextualize several others pieces in the puzzle.”

But its biggest selling point hands down is its performance. The emphasis on power and performance in turn enables McAfee to make a strong showing in large enterprise and high traffic data center environments, as well as service and cloud providers, among other segments. It’s a focus that will ultimately ease the way for its channel to break new ground with larger customers, while creating higher margin opportunities and further establishing McAfee’s credibility in network security arenas.

And perhaps McAfee has to prove itself a little. While the security firm has a strong and viable network security portfolio, Smith said that historically its offerings were likely dwarfed by its reputation and prowess around endpoint security.

But McAfee is hoping to change that. The biggest reason is that certain areas of network security are outpacing endpoint security – and McAfee doesn’t want to miss out.

“There’s a little bit of timing and opportunity,” Smith said. “Traditionally, endpoint is still growing, but not growing as fast as parts of the security industry. It’s much easier to sell product in an areas where things seems to be growing a little bit faster.”

McAfee wouldn’t be remiss to invest further in this area. A TechNavio report indicated that the Global Intrusion Prevention System market was slated to grow at a CAGR of 16.2 percent between 2011 and 2015, driven by a groundswell of regulatory requirements, among other things.

Subsequently, McAfee has stepped up its game. Most notably, the firm plunked down $389 million for next-generation firewall firm Stonesoft, which fills in gaps in McAfee’s network security portfolio that will likely give it more leverage when going up against major industry players Palo Alto Networks Inc., Sourcefire Inc., and Fortinet, Inc.

Last year, McAfee expanded its reach into the firewall management arena – likely set for a growth spike – by infusing Firemon’s Security Manager into its own firewall solution.

And McAfee is also breaking new ground in other areas of network security, namely Security Information and Event Management, kicked off with the acquisition of SIEM firm NitroSecurity in late 2011, but extended with intelligent threat identification technologies into its flagship ePolicy Orchestrator, among other things.

McAfee’s latest network security push takes the firm farther along in its ambition to onboard  “new products in hot and fast growing areas,” Smith said.

“It’s learning a new technology instead of doing business with another vendor,” he said. “We’re a channel driven company and that benefits our partners. That’s how we make our money.”