McAfee CEO developing greenfield markets for channel

TORONTO – It’s been just one year since Dave DeWalt succeeded George Samenuk as McAfee (NYSE: MFE) CEO. In that time, DeWalt, the former chief executive of Documentum, helped author a much needed cybercrime law that is sitting in the U.S. Senate, acquired two security companies (SafeBoot & ScanAlert), launched a pilot program to cut down on spam, and hired Ross Allen to lead its Canadian operations.

The former Olympic wrestler and University of Delaware hall of famer is also developing two greenfield markets in data protection and virtualization security. DeWalt hopes McAfee can make a big impact in these two market segments through its channel partners.

Data protection is one of the new security concerns for corporations, he said. Corporations make up 60 per cent of McAfee’s total business. The rest is in consumer and retail. All of that corporate business is handled by channel partners.The data protection market was basically created by the two biggest credit card companies Visa and MasterCard in an attempt to bring a better compliance standard than the governments.

The standard is called Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and is intended to secure consumer credit card information used online. “Private industry is creating these mandates,” DeWalt said.

Last November, DeWalt announced a new business unit called Data Protection largely from the SafeBoot acquisition, which close the same month. The new unit will be lead by Gerhard Watzinger and will focus on mobile data protection.In this unit, McAfee offers merchant security solutions that comply with the PCI DSS standard.

Virtualization security is emerging because the new operating systems Hypervisor and Microsoft’s Hyper-V (formerly known as Windows Server Virtualization), DeWalt said.

“Those are new OSs that sit with Linux and Windows and can leverage new resources. Virtualization is not security tested quite yet and with that there is a new market opportunity,” he added.

According to DeWalt, virtualization has been an emerging market for the past three to four years first in test and development segment then into production and now in the mainstream. “But, how secure are these systems?” DeWalt asks. While at EMC, which acquired Documentum in 2003, DeWalt had a bird’s eye view of virtualizations’ growth. Today, he said, companies are allows thousands of employees to share systems and because of this the ability to spread malware becomes greater.

”We are now sharing disk and resources and it has created a new security threat that wasn’t initially thought of,” he said.”

Earlier this year, McAfee unveiled a service to help customers securely deploy virtualization. Called Foundstone Professional Services, it contains a set of security guidelines covering people, processes and technology to further educate enterprises about virtualization security.

Allen anticipates that channel partners will look at virtualization security or the linkage between the physical and non-physical as an opportunity to specialize to drive higher margins.

“In Canada, we can have that specialization, but you’ll also need some geographic presence. But, it will help solution providers to get away from traditional reseller margins and get into a space that can drive higher margins,” Allen said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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