McAfee President: Tech Giants Will Be Next Rivals

Mike DeCesare, president of McAfee

Mike DeCesare, president of McAfee

McAfee’s competitors in the security space in the long run won’t be its traditional security-focused rivals, company president Mike DeCesare told an audience of the company’s solution providers. Rather, he anticipates his company’s rivals will be some of the biggest names in the technology sphere.

Speaking in a wide-ranging Q&A session at the company’s SecurityAlliance Partner Summit in Las Vegas, DeCesare said that none of his current competitors make him nervous. Rather, it’s the likes of Cisco, HP, IBM, and Microsoft that give him long-term concern.

“This is a huge industry, it’s fast growing, and it’s high, high profile. When you see something like that, it’s natural for the companies that represent massive footprints in IT to want to have a presence there,” DeCesare said.

That message went with one that resonated throughout presentations by various McAfee executives over the course of the day: the pitch that the security market is too fragmented, and small players that only cover one or two current hot buttons are, in McAfee’s opinion, getting too much attention and too much wallet share.

“Nobody wants to have 50-plus players in their environments. Clients are looking for security companies to step up and take responsibility for a larger portion of their spend,” he said.

Earlier in the day, worldwide channel chief Gavin Struthers had said the breadth of McAfee’s product line gives partners an opportunity to “become less promiscuous,” about as bold a call for partners to go deeper with the vendor as one’s likely to hear on the keynote stage. DeCesare echoed those thoughts, repeating his stance that the security vendor wants to make investments in partners who make an investment in it. He also called for more openness from partners – particularly when things aren’t going right.

“We want to do more of our business with partners who are all-in,” he told partners, and to quality as “all-in,” partners have to be willing to share more of their economics on McAfee deals, so the vendor can understand not only if it’s meeting its KPIs on a deal, but also whether or not partners are meeting their own KPIs.

“If we don’t know what your targets are, we don’t know what we’re marching towards,” DeCesare said.

He also called on partners to more broadly get involved in McAfee’s newer and high growth opportunities, including next-generation firewall and SIEM. He urged existing partners to build a practice around these areas, and added that if current partners do not do so, the company will remain channel-centric, but may have little choice but to introduce other specialized partners into incumbent’s customers to represent these new opportunities. “We’d love to keep a single-partner strategy in each of our customers,” DeCesare told partners.

Getting partners involved in opportunities, particularly its network security business, is key to enabling the growth McAfee expects to see in that field. While the company’s business currently skews towards the endpoint protection business (70 percent of revenues to networking security’s 30 percent), DeCesare posited that in the next two or three years, those two fields will be deadlocked at 50 percent of its overall revenues.

“I need you to understand our networking strategy,” he told partners.

He also suggested that as that shift happens, the company may have to expand its channel coverage model, to have true experts on each side of the business calling on and enabling channel partners. The trick, he said, will be figuring out how to maximize that enablement without making McAfee look like two entirely different companies to its customers.