McAfee Looks To Get Beyond Random Acts of Enablement

McAfee worldwide channel chief Gavin Struthers

McAfee worldwide channel chief Gavin Struthers

At its SecurityAlliance Partner Summit in Las Vegas this week, McAfee discussed plans to make its partner programs easier and simpler in the long-term, starting with a key challenge around partner enablement.

Worldwide channel chief Gavin Struthers told partners that it’s often too hard for them to find the details they need around training and marketing support, particularly for any of the technologies McAfee has acquired in acquisitions over recent years. That’s particularly a problem for the company as it sees its networking security lineup – much of which has been assembled through those acquisitions – becoming as much as 50 percent of its revenues in the next few years. Partner support is growing on the networking side, but many partners still identify more closely with the company’s traditional endpoint security lineup much more than the network portfolio.

“We’ve been guilty of random acts of enablement, and it’s been too hard to find enablement components,” Struthers told partners.

Lisa Matherly, vice president of worldwide partner programs and marketing at McAfee, said partners will see the results of its new enablement framework as soon as the next few weeks. The framework will focus on the key areas of learning, planning, and executing with the vendors, and will introduce a structure that will make it easier for McAfee to slide new technologies – whether built internally or acquired – into the enablement structure, rather than “bolting them on,” as the company had largely done in the past.

That should allow McAfee to quickly turn up the volume around the products it wants partners most focused on, specifically its SIEM and next-generation firewall offerings, as well as its newly-announced Advanced Threat Defense offering.

Once the full product portfolio is in the enablement framework, the company will shift its attention enabling post-sales services, she said.

The new enablement focus will be the first part of a “revamped” SecurityAlliance partner program, one that will begin to take shape in earnest over the next year for full introduction in 2015. Struthers said the primary goal is to make the program simpler and easier to navigate for partners.

Details are still in development, but the new program will focus on cross-training partners to get the representation of the company’s networking portfolio to where it wants it to be, and will also include ways for new acquisitions to more seamlessly be fully introduced into the program, rather than simply tacked on through a new specialization added to the program in isolation. StoneSoft, the firewall company McAfee purchased in July, will likely be the first product – and partner base – fully integrated into SecurityAlliance by default.

“Partners should expect a streamlined, simpler-to-navigate program that makes it easier for them to understand the market opportunity,” Matherly said. Rather than simply tacking new competencies onto the existing program, the company is looking to develop “the right competency model for network security” as a whole, with the component pieces flowing from that overall structure.

The new framework will also provide an opportunity for the company to clean up the integration of past acquisitions into the partner program. For example, while MX Logic was relatively early on McAfee’s acquisition list, having joined the company more than four years ago, and is partially integrated with SecurityAlliance, its separate Partner Focus program is still running beside the overall McAfee framework.

While much of the discussion at this year’s Partner Summit was on the future direction of SecurityAlliance, there were some more concrete examples of where the vendor is focused in the here and now.

Struthers promised partners new support around leads, including training its channel account managers to deliver partners a monthly report a partner has received from or given to McAfee. Struthers also promised to streamline the process by which partners get their end-of-quarter rebates. In the past, the company has taken up to 21 days to get a rebate letter out to partners. With a new process, Struthers said that’s currently on its way to 10 days, and he pledged to get it down to three days as soon as possible.

“Many of you haven’t been making your rebates because you weren’t clear where you were at any one time,” he told partners.

The company will also be doubling the payouts associated with its McAfee Rewards spiffs program, Struthers said, and will make it easier for partners to take advantage of its Bring McAfee To The Game competitive displacement deal registration program.