McAfee, Intel Strategy Coming into Focus

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McAfee and Intel are busy making a series of product and technology development announcements that will culminate at McAfee’s annual Focus security conference in October. At Focus, partners will get a first-hand look at the future of these integrated companies.

A little more than a year ago, Intel surprised the security and greater tech world when it acquired McAfee for $8 billion. Few people saw the logic of a processor and chip company buying a security vendor whose products were essentially software.

Intel and McAfee justified the deal by stating McAfee would continue to operate as an independent company, while the two companies would collaborate on the development of embedded security and security for mobile devices. In other words, they’re going to push security into the silicon.

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Suffice it to say, skeptical were the partners, customers and analysts.

A year later, McIntel’s vision is coming into focus, as the two companies have made several announcements about new technologies, products and initiatives. These announcements are leading up to McAfee’s annual Focus Security Conference in Las Vegas, where partners and customers will be treated to a slate of McAfee and Intel executives talking about their integrated future.

At this week’s Intel Developer Forum, McAfee announced DeepSafe, a new hybrid hardware/software technology that detects rootkit attacks on PCs and servers. DeepSafe is significant because it sits under the operating system and application layer, which are the primary targets of attacks. This gives DeepSafe a better vantage point to detect attacks and call on complementary security resources to eradicate intrusions.

“This is a tremendous shift for McAfee and one of the biggest innovations in the security industry’s history,” said Todd Gebhart, co-president of McAfee, in a statement. “McAfee DeepSafe uses hardware features already in the Intel processors to provide security beyond the OS. From this unique vantage point, DeepSafe can apply new techniques to deliver a whole new generation of protection in real time to prevent malicious activity and not just detect infections.”

Also at IDF, McAfee and Intel announced the development of anti-theft solutions for ultrabook PCs. The technology will enable owners of lightweight notebooks to track, lockdown and wipe data from stolen and lost machines. Similar technology is currently available in Apple Mac products. The availability of this technology for PCs could give Apple competitors a value-add feature.

Earlier this month, McAfee earned a coveted position in Gartner’s magic quadrant for mobile security. This is significant not because mobile security is new to McAfee, but because it’s a core tenant of the Intel-McAfee go-to-market strategy. As Gartner wrote, “Differences in the Ability to Execute are based largely on financial and sales performance, but are strongly influenced by client feedback, and anecdotal research into matters of satisfaction and usability. Differences in Vision are scaled according to the breadth of the platform and the ability of a company to anticipate hot buying issues as evidenced by their R&D investments.”

These are all significant advancements in the technology and positioning of McAfee, but it doesn’t necessarily answer all partner questions regarding integration of McAfee into the Intel fabric. Partners have expressed concerns over the lack of clarity into whether Intel will homogenize the McAfee channel with the Intel structure.

At the Focus event, partners may get their answers. Among the featured speakers are co-presidents Mike DeCesare and Todd Gebhart, and Renée J. James, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Software and Services Group. James will speak about McAfee's integration with Intel and joint product development efforts.

Doubters of McIntel have been surprised by how well these two distinctly different technology and cultural companies are performing together. At Focus, partners and customers may get a few more surprises – and mostly for the better.

* * *

Lawrence M. Walsh is CEO and president of The 2112 Group, a technology business advisory service that specializes in optimizing indirect channels and partner relationships. He’s also the executive director of the Channel Vanguard Council. He is the former publisher of Channel Insider and editor of VARBusiness Magazine. You can reach him at lmwalsh@the2112group.com.

On Twitter:
Larry Walsh:@lmwalsh2112 | Channelnomics: @channelnomics

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